Its just days to go before voters in Gearhart are asked if they should overturn the existing ordinance regulating short-term nightly rentals. The supporters of Measure 4-188 have just begun pitching new arguments. They are now arguing their measure is about jobs and Gearhart’s economy. To say their self-serving arguments are snake oil, insults snake oil.

Vacation rental management companies have much to gain if Measure 4-188 passes. Oregon Beach Vacations has donated $4,000 to David Townsend’s political action committee that is trying to repeal and replace Gearhart’s existing Rental Ordinance 901. Another supporter is Seaside Vacation Homes in Seaside. Did you see their signboard that read “GEARHART FRIENDS PROTECT JOBS VOTE YES 4-118”? Yup, they even got their measure number wrong. Do these vacation rental management corporations really believe the voters of Gearhart believe their motive for supporting Measure 4-188 is jobs? And not the thousands of dollars they will make managing even more short-term nightly rentals in Gearhart?

Then we have the recent report titled The Economic Impact of Short Term Vacation Rentals in Gearhart commissioned by David Townsend’s political action committee. This is the same Mr. Townsend, a Sacramento political strategist, quoted in the Daily Astorian as bragging that a judge had rewritten 99 percent of the ballot measure description. The truth is, the judge changed just a few words and combined two sentences. That’s it, nothing more.

Justin L. Adams, the author of the above mentioned report is another Sacramento resident. Mr. Adams advertises himself as “providing insightful economic research and analysis to help clients achieve their policy objectives.” In this case, Mr. Townsend and his associates are the clients. They will profit enormously if the short-term rental ordinance is repealed and replaced by Measure 4-188. The Sacramento connection between Mr. Townsend and Mr. Adams is no coincidence; they want to keep this local.

In all his wisdom, Mr. Adams has no understanding of the core values of Gearhart. He says the goal of short-term rental regulations is to eliminate nightly rentals over time. This is false.

During the ordinance development process, both the Planning Commission and City Council were very aware of Gearhart’s history of short-term rentals. There was never an intention to eliminate nightly rentals. The City remains open to revisiting the number of rental permits, any time. Though invited, Mr. Townsend has refused to state his case directly to the City Council. The report doesn’t even mention our high-density R3 tourist zone. Nor does Mr. Adams mention the growing influx of full-time residents who are helping to sustain and grow Gearhart’s year-round economy. These are potential full time residents who are unable to find places to live due to the short term rentals. The housing shortage in Gearhart is a huge threat to its economy.

In his report, Mr. Adams says the Gearhart economy is driven by tourism. Tourists do spend money in Gearhart. But, Gearhart was hardly suffering prior to the flood of internet facilitated nightly rentals beginning several years ago. He goes on to say that nightly lodgers generate thousands of badly needed tax dollars for Gearhart. This too is false. Gearhart began collecting taxes on short-term rentals just this year. It was doing just fine long before the tax collections began. He also conveniently neglects the fact that those tax dollars are used to monitor short-term rentals and add staff.

Mr. Adams argues that real estate is so expensive in Gearhart that property owners must rent their property in order to afford it. The report peddles this myth over and over again. These aren’t homeowners struggling to make their mortgage payment. These are businesses out to make a profit. The reality is many of the permits are issued to LLCs, businesses organized under Oregon law. Also, very few transient lodging permits are held by anybody actually living in Gearhart. The majority of permit holders live out-of-town. The permits are held by residents of the Portland area, Seattle and several states, even Alaska. Not Gearhart residents.

Measure 4-188 is not about protecting jobs or caring about Gearhart’s economy. It’s about people who want to profit from their rental properties at the expense of Gearhart citizens’ rights and quality of life.

Vote no on Measure 4-188.

Terry Graff


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