Buying our home here was the biggest investment of our lives, made gladly to achieve our longtime dream of living by the ocean in retirement. Now our dream is at risk from an invasion of short-term rentals (STRs) that threaten our quiet enjoyment of our residential neighborhood. Since we moved here three-and-a-half years ago, we have seen a 500 percent increase in STRs in our neighborhood. That's not a typographical error, it really is 500 percent, with more applications pending. We thought R-1-A zoning would protect us. We were wrong. We now have STRs on both sides of our home. Construction is beginning on a vacant lot next door, and the owner plans to operate it as a short-term rental.
Some Bella Beach homeowners testified at an STR workshop that their neighborhood has been overrun by STRS since they bought 12 years ago, and things have gotten so bad they no longer plan to retire in their home. They feel driven to sell and move. We don't want that to happen to us, too. It would crush our dream. Our plan was to live in this house until we die or can no longer live independently, but why would we want to stay in a de facto motel zone?
STR companies talk about their business investments made here, but most are owned by people and companies outside Lincoln County. Most of the money the STR managers brag about does not even pass through the county. It goes directly to the non-resident owners. Fees paid to Airbnb and Vacasa go to San Francisco and Portland, not here.
Residents who bought homes to live in also made big investments here, and our personal investments are severely threatened by the commercial STR invasion. Let STR investors buy in commercial zones, not low-density residential zones. We did not invest for money, we invested in quality of life. Don't take that away from us, please.
Jim and Francoise Peterson