WALDPORT — The city of Waldport and county officials are discussing ways to address issues posed by vacation rentals in and around Waldport.
A number of issues concerning vacation rentals are on the county’s — and the city’s — radar, and local officials plan to address some of the problems posed by such properties. One of these issues includes the use of septic systems on some older vacation rental properties.
“We’ve got close to not quite 500, and a significant share of them are on septics,” said Claire Hall, board of commissioners chairperson.
This ties in with the number of occupants allowed in certain vacation rental properties, which are licensed to hold specific numbers of people based on the number of bedrooms and sleeping spaces. Since 2016, when the county first started regulating vacation rentals this way, county officials realized that might not be the most effective way to monitor vacation rentals.
“The assumption when we did the licensing program three years ago was that a place could have three sleeping units, two people each, plus two more. That would be a good way of monitoring occupancy,” Hall said during a joint meeting of city and county officials last week. “We’re finding out that no, some places have been modified with additional sleeping spaces.”
Many of the oldest vacation rentals on septic systems had those systems installed during the days when there was little to no documented information available on a property’s septic system, leaving modern homeowners with very little information to give to the county, let alone have for themselves.
Waldport city officials had some ideas on how to bring vacation rentals back in line on this and other issues, with Waldport Mayor Dann Cutter saying the city is looking at how to better monitor vacation rentals that aren’t abiding by certain regulations there.
“We’re looking at how we catch vacation rental dwellings that aren’t registering, that aren’t paying the transient room tax,” Cutter said. “There are a lot of technical solutions to catch the people who are renting them quietly.”
County officials are also aware of vacation rental licensing fees going towards sheriff’s office enforcement of vacation rental regulations.
“The licensing fee, in part, is supporting staff time with the sheriff to issue the license and conduct monitoring enforcement and track down the folks who are trying to fly under the radar without a license,” Hall said. “I think we’ve had good success in all those areas.”
The one-hour response time requirement for law enforcement to react to complaints about vacation rentals is one of the issues to be addressed, according to county officials, and county staff is expected to prepare some solutions to address any problems on that point. Efforts to limit and cap the growth of vacation rentals is also on the table, since vacation rentals often cut into the available housing inventory in Waldport, according to Cutter.
“That inventory has been removed, in general, from both the rental pool and the for-sale pool, leaving limited options for people to move out of their starter homes,” Cutter said. “This means starter homes are not available for people who want to buy a starter home.”