NEWPORT –– The Newport Planning Commission approved vacation rental ordinance amendments Monday night. The new recommendations from the planning commission now go to the Newport City Council for approval, rejection or modification.
The recommendations would continue to see the requirement of a short-term rental business license and endorsement for vacation rental owners, which would include information of the owner, agent and representative, as well as liability insurance, land use compatibility statement, stated occupancy and statement that off-street parking spaces are available.
For home shares and bed and breakfasts, two items have to be submitted to prove the building is the primary residence of the owner. These can include a copy of a voter registration card, a copy of an Oregon driver’s license or I.D. card or a copy of a federal income tax return from the last tax year.
In the case of the federal income tax return, only the first page of the return is required and financial data should be redacted.
Other requirements would include acknowledgment of good neighbor guidelines, a listing number, completed fire safety checklist, a completed structural safety checklist, proof of garbage service and any other information the city deems necessary. There would also be a license fee, although the amount of that fee would be set if the draft ordinances are approved by the city council.
The vacation rental business license would be valid for 12 months and would be effective July 1, according to the draft ordinance. The business license for individual vacation rental owners could be renewed annually if all requirements continue to be met.
The approval of the vacation rental ordinance changes is a long time coming. The Vacation Rental Ad-Hoc Committee, which reports to the planning commission, started meeting last year to think up solutions to problems posed by the presence of vacation rentals in the city.
“I would like to see it made clear that the vacation rental will be allowed to continue on as long as they are continuously used as vacation rentals until they are not being used for 12 months is the way I read this,” said Bob Berman, one of the planning commissioners.
The draft ordinance would also allow for events like weddings, parties, reunions and other like gatherings provided the occupancy limits are respected.
According to the draft amendments, a conditional use permit would allow more than one vacation rental on sections of a street on which there are 10 lots. In those circumstances, no more than one vacation rental will be allowed for every five lots.
Part of the new code changes would also develop a complaint system for vacation rentals, which would include the services of a third-party vendor to address problems at vacation rental properties. This means the owner of the vacation rental would provide their contact information to those renting the property in case of emergency.
Some on the planning commission thought those precautions still weren’t enough, considering this isn’t the first time the city has made an effort to regulate vacation rentals and curb problems posed by problem properties.
“There needs to be a major point of emphasis that this is not going to work any better than the last one without some serious enforcement,” said Berman. “I think we had a lot of ideas to increase the fee, the specific delineation of police department versus third-party vendor versus code enforcement personnel, which may or may not be the officer. So I’d like to see a memo rather than just a motion.”
Another planning commissioner, Lee Hardy, joined Berman in doubting the enforceability of the new code amendments.
“We also need to ask if they’re willing to try to enforce this, which is going to be different enforcement processes in different neighborhoods,” Hardy said. “We need some administrative controls on data sharing and protocols. This is not even the beginning of good enforcement here.”
The new vacation rental code changes now go to the Newport City Council for approval, rejection or modification.