Astoria, Ore.—Petitioners on a Clatsop County ballot measure to protect homes in rural neighborhoods from being converted to vacation rentals today filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit brought against the county by the short-term rental industry. The rental industry’s lawsuit seeks to remove the question from the May 16 ballot, preventing Clatsop County voters from weighing in on Measure 4-221.
“Wealthy out-of-town investors and vacation industry corporations know that Measure 4-221 will win big at the ballot, and that’s the only reason they have filed this meritless lawsuit,” said petitioner Jeff Davis, a retired academic advisor who lives in Cove Beach. “It’s disappointing that this industry would rather stop an election altogether than hear the concerns of local residents about the damage their vacation rentals are causing to residential neighborhoods across rural Clatsop County.”
The vacation rental industry group that is suing the County, Everyone for the North Oregon Coast, and its founder, Marie Gwydir-Moore of Portland, are under investigation by the Oregon Secretary of State after two Clatsop County residents filed a formal complaint alleging the group has broken multiple campaign finance laws.
In their motion to intervene in the lawsuit, Davis and his co-petitioners, Charles Dice and Clare Hasler-Lewis, have asserted that the suit tramples both their state constitutional right as Oregon voters to refer legislation to the ballot, and the rights of Clatsop County voters to participate in the Democratic process.
Last fall, the petitioners worked with fellow volunteers to collect signatures from over 1,100 Clatsop County voters on their petition to challenge a 2022 county ordinance that made sweeping changes to land use laws, allowing commercial vacation rentals in 16 rural neighborhoods across Clatsop County. The Board of Commissioners passed the ordinance despite testimony from hundreds of local residents who described the damaging impacts of the unchecked conversion of homes to commercial short-term rentals in their communities, from the displacement of long-term renters to the excessive noise, garbage, and septic issues.
“In Clatsop County, nurses, teachers, and other local workers can’t find affordable places to live. That makes it difficult for local industries and small businesses to hire staff and keep their doors open. That’s not the future we want for our community,” said Mr. Davis. “Clatsop County’s 2019 housing report recommended reasonable regulations on the short term rental industry as one way to increase housing supply. Measure 4-221 is our county’s chance to make that happen. But only if the vacation rental industry doesn’t stand in the way to deny us the right to make that decision.”
For more information about Measure 4-221, visit www.northcoastneighborsunited.com