County Board sets final vote on STR rules

Hood River County Board of Commissioners on Monday tagged the end of their deliberations on rules for short term rentals outside of city limits.

The board reached consensus on major points of the proposed regulations and looked to their next meeting, Oct. 17, for a final vote. Commissioners expect to adopt the ordinance that night.

It was the elected panel’s third meeting on STRs, a debate that has pitted tourism against the agricultural sector, amid the larger discussion over housing availability.

While commissioners didn’t take action this week, they settled on a bulk of main points in the draft ordinance they plan to adopt, with some changes still to be seen.

Written and verbal testimony was formally closed.

The ordinance limits STRs with a cap of 100 — roughly 2 percent of the housing stock — outside the urban growth boundaries of Hood River and Cascade Locks. Within that total, there will be a provision allowing up to 25 rentals on farm or forest zones via a permit that requires public notice and review process.

Rules are tighter for STRs on those resource zones than elsewhere — rentals there must be the owner’s primary residence, a provision that rings close to the city of Hood River’s recently passed ordinance. Proof of residency is required when applying for the STR.

Hood River City Council adopted its STR ruleset in late August. It restricts to 90 or less the number of days rental providers may rent out their homes, and requires that the home be their primary residence.

John Roberts, Hood River County planning director, explained the city’s rules will apply in Hood River’s urban growth boundary, though the county planning department will handle STR permits in that overlapping jurisdiction, or “donut hole” area.

Per the county’s ordinance, STRs on farm and forest land will be relegated to the “primary dwelling” (or home on the property), not allowed as an accessory building, and can only be rented out 180 days or less per year. The permit would be valid for two years and would be non-transferable.

County planners are considering a more active enforcement role of the department, which has formerly been complaint driven.

“Staff will explore all options to administer such an approach,” Roberts said in a staff report.

Some modifications the board didn’t finalize Monday include a licensing number to prove valid STRs, eliminating an adjacent property consent provision, and numerous clerical changes.

The board will reconvene at 6 p.m., Monday, Oct. 17 at the County Business Administration Building, 601 State St., to adopt STR rules. They will also continue discussions that night on crafting marijuana business rules.

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the_central_scrutinizer 2 years, 2 months ago

Time will prove the actions of the City Council have no effect on improving the housing stock or lowering the cost of housing. The STR policy will have a devastating effect on the local economy. I've attended most of City Council meetings on this subject and am repeatedly shocked by the economic ignorance of this group. In two weeks I am attending a house warming party here in Hood River. The home was purchased of a former work colleague who lives in Portland. No need or intention of renting it. They don't need to do so. They are "wealthy" and simply bought it as a second home. With no intention of leaving Portland, the home will sit dark most of the year. I attended a similar event earlier in the summer. My Seattle neighbors will keep their home here on Columbia but simply take it off of VRBO in 7 years. They own the home outright and don't need rental income. I don't think the City Council understands impact the growing amount of wealth in Portland and Seattle will have on the housing market here in Hood River. Unless you mandate that if "you purchase a home you must occupy it" the proposed ban on STR will have no effect on lowering housing prices and will only serve to gut the local economy of service, entertainment and recreation jobs. I am continually stunned by the combination of hubris and ignorance displayed by the City Council and the inability of seek a negotiated compromise on the issue.


LocalObserver 2 years, 1 month ago

@the_central_scrutinizer "The STR policy will have a devastating effect on the local economy." Are you kidding? A devastating effect? Do you realize that tourism is <5% of the local economy to start with and the lack of attainable housing is having a direct impact on local industry from being able to attract and retain workers?

"[STR limits] will have no effect on lowering housing prices" Lowering prices? You're right. The market is likely going up and to the right over time, with or without limits on STRs. However, limiting the supply of STRs will (a) increase the prices for the legit/remaining STRs due to decreased supply, and (b) will increase the supply of non-STR properties in town.

TLDR: Econ 101 lesson for you: Less supply = higher prices; More supply = lower prices. If some of the STRs turn into "dark" second homes, there's no way that all of the current STRs will go that route. Rather, many will become LTRs or the owners will sell them off. In either instance, the supply of available non-STR housing stock will increase.


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