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LINCOLN COUNTY — After the influx of visitors to the coast over the weekend, local government leaders met to take action in addition to the executive order issued by Gov. Kate Brown’s office, which was elevated from “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” to “Stay Home, Save Lives” on Monday morning.
In a joint emergency meeting on Monday evening, the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners, mayors and city councils exercised their authority to act to protect citizens and minimize the effects of the COVID-19 emergency by unanimously approving Order 3-23-85, regarding short-term rentals (STRs). Complete details are available on the county website, www.co.lincoln.or.us — in the box “What’s New,” click on “Order #3-23-85 Minimize the Effects of the COVID-19 Emergency.”
“This does not shutter any facilities. It limits who can stay in the facilities,” clarified Newport City Manager Spencer Nebel. “The list of people who can stay in the facilities are those staying for over 30 days, as well as … a number of exceptions to that, including folks that are essential workers, construction people, truck drivers, all the folks that come to our communities to do business, to bring us toilet paper, to bring all these critical supplies … they can stay a shorter time.”
Lincoln County Commission Chair Kaety Jacobson presided over Monday’s emergency meeting with municipal leaders. Jacobson, Newport Mayor Dean Sawyer, County Counsel Wayne Belmont, Newport City Recorder Peggy Hawker and Nebel were present in the council chambers at Newport City Hall. Municipal leaders representing Depoe Bay, Lincoln City, Newport, Siletz, Toledo, Waldport and Yachats joined the meeting by phone.
“We are currently in an emergency situation, and we are all trying to make a unified and consistent effort throughout Lincoln County to avoid any confusion,” said Sawyer of the effort to limit visitors to the county who could put a strain on limited medical resources and compromise vulnerable residents in the wake of the global pandemic.
“This is a completely unprecedented time,” Jacobson said. “Very difficult choices to make with the current emergency. Very, very difficult times for all of our communities, for Lincoln County as a whole, for the state, for the nation and for the world.”
“Whether people are coming to the coast, or people from the coast are going to the valley, there has to be a valid reason for travel,” Nebel explained, interpreting the governor’s order, “not just purely recreation … during this emergency time.”
“This does not close roads or access coming into Lincoln County but simply addresses the short-term lodging and visitors in our area at this time,” qualified Jacobson.
“It’s comprehensive, and it helps,” said Sawyer of the order. “I’m very impressed with our community today. A couple of hotels closed today. A vacation rental company here in town closed … I think everyone in the community respects this.”
The order was effective immediately when adopted and will remain in effect until the declared emergency ends on April 20, or the prohibition is otherwise modified by the board of commissioners.
Notice was given to all affected property owners and managers. All guests not exempted by the order must vacate by noon on Wednesday, March 25. All occupancies going forward must meet the terms of the order.