OP/ED: Yikes! I think there are motels in our neighborhood!


By Dave Benneth, Neskowin Resident

My wife tells me I’m not very observant. Maybe she’s right because after years living in Neskowin, I just realized there may be motels in our neighborhood disguised as short-term rentals. (I thought there was something different about them.)
They’re not illegal. They’re known as “STR’s” and have permits from the County like they should. But maybe the full-time ones used primarily or solely as STR’s are say …“misclassified”?

This might not seem like a big deal except that our neighborhood (like many others in Tillamook County) is zoned as “low-density single-family residential development”. This zoning allows certain businesses like home occupations, foster family homes, golf courses and swimming pools, aquaculture facilities, cottage industries and bed and breakfast businesses (if the owner is present). But not motels, or hotels, or resorts.
Tillamook County’s Land Use Ordinance defines a motel as: “A building or group of buildings used for transient residential purposes that contains guest rooms or dwelling units, and which is designed, intended or used primarily for the accommodation of transient automobile travelers.” (Hmm…sounds like some rentals in my neighborhood; “used primarily…” could be the key.)
Maybe the STR classification is too broadly applied. For example, a family that occasionally rents out the beach house they inherited from Grandma to help offset property taxes and insurance, should in my opinion, qualify as an STR because it’s used primarily as a personal residence. But what about the investment syndicate that might purchase five beach front residences in Pacific City’s “low density, single family” zone, obtains permits to operate them as STR’s and then advertises them as “resorts” offering daily housekeeping. Should this business be allowed to operate as a group of STR’s or is this used primarily (I hope you get the theme I’m developing here) as a motel operation? I think it is, in substance, a motel and it should be operated in the appropriate commercial zone. Other motel and resort owners have to operate in commercial zones. Isn’t this unfair competition? What do you think?
Whatever you think, let your thoughts be known at the monthly County STR Advisory Committee meetings which reserve time for public comments. The next meeting is on July 12 at 9:30 am and you can participate in person or remotely. For more details, go to the Tillamook Community Development website and click on the Short-Term Rental Advisory Committee button on the left side of the screen.
(Psst…the topic of discussion will be about how STR’s affect community “livability”. It might be a good one.)