YACHATS — The Oct. 2 Yachats City Council meeting was filled with vacation rental owners and at least one property management company objecting to the permanent cap on vacation rental licenses imposed by the city council at that meeting.
There were two Yachats residents who spoke in favor of the permanent measure to limit vacation rentals to 125.
When pressed on how the council determined to institute the limit, Mayor John Moore explained there was a listening session held where many in the community spoke in favor of it.
Duke Tracy, a permanent Yachats resident, said the initial public hearing on the matter was held on July 12, 2017. Notice was mailed on July 7, following the very busy Fourth of July holiday. With so many Yachats homeowners living out of area, few of those were able to respond or attend.
Tracy objects to the limit, citing his right to use his home as he sees fit. His heirs, he explained, would not be able to use the home as a vacation rental in the future. Nor is it likely that his oceanfront home would make an affordable monthly rental in any case.
“It would have been better if the initial committee had included vacation rental owners. To my knowledge, it did not,” Tracy said.
Douglas Cochran, now living in Olympia, Wash., currently owns two vacation rentals in Yachats. He said Yachats is a tourist town, and “there’s no sense in trying to cut off the number of tourists who come to it.”
“They’re trying to privatize Yachats,” said Candy Neville, who sent out 880 letters to all property owners of record in Yachats.
In the last week, Neville said she’s had eight more responses from property owners who were unaware of the recent city council decision to limit the vacation rental licenses issued.
Dale Yeadon, who has had his house for 18 years, implored the council to limit future licensing because of the issues around his property of noisy, even belligerent people, out past curfew.
Neville admonished the council, telling them that when vacation rental licenses were self regulated, there were fewer of them than there are now.
Yachats resident Mary Ellen O’Shaughnessey spoke in favor of the limit, accusing the vacation rental owners of viewing Yachats as a commodity. She said she views Yachats as a community.
Long-time resident and former Yachats mayor and city council member David Chamberlin took exception to O’Shaughnessey’s categorization.
“I have a different concept, I believe, of community than this lady was talking about,” he said. “I believe in a community that respects other people’s rights, and one of those rights is property rights.” There was applause after Chamberlain spoke.
Jamie Michel, manager of Sweet Homes Vacation Getaways, took exception to O’Shaughnessey’s statement as well. “We have beautified the property on the corner of Seventh and 101. Not only do we participate and volunteer, but we also donate money to the fireworks fund, and the duckies, and YFAP, and on and on and on.” Michel said Yachats ostracized them as business owners in the community.
Yachats resident Robert Goat responded to Michel, saying, “I don’t think that woman has the experience of being yelled at by a vacation rental manager at two o’clock in the morning.” He accused the vacation rental owners of caring only about money. “Not once did they mention that this is a retirement community,” he said.
Vacation rental owners feel that such issues relate to code enforcement, and permanent residents can be loud or in violation of codes as well as vacationers.
“I think that with a cap that we’re striking a balance,” said Councilor Leslie Vaaler.
While Councilor James Kerti voted in favor of the limit, he indicated he didn’t feel that the limit was “written in stone.”
The council voted unanimously to make the cap permanent.
“Everybody has talked about the importance of balance … none of you who are voting on what is of vital interest to us have vacation rentals,” said Cochran to the council after the vote. “And you’re elected by an electorate who, for the vast majority, don’t have vacation rentals.”
Chamberlin added, “You seem very set on talking about balance in the community. What kind of balance is it for me, that does not have a rental license, who tomorrow goes in to a care home, and my kids, in order to keep the home, need to rent it out. That is not balance. That is giving a priority to specific citizens and taking away the right from other citizens to use their property as they wish to.”
The issue continues to divide the Yachats community.