9/26/2017 1:21:00 PM Vacation rentals under review in Sisters
At the request of the Sisters City Council, the Sisters Planning Commission is currently reviewing code regarding vacation rentals in town.
There are currently 39 permitted vacation rentals in town, which amounts to about 3 percent of the 1,300 residential dwelling units in the city. A vacation rental is considered a short-term dwelling unit that is rented out for 30 or less consecutive days. With the upsurge in Air BnB and VRBO-type rentals everywhere, the Council is looking for recommendations regarding the regulation of vacation rentals to help maintain the livability of the community and avoid or mitigate negative impacts.
There are currently local renters who are losing their housing due to long-term rental units being converted by their owners to short-term units, impacting an already tight rental market here in Sisters.
Although there are currently only 39 identified vacation rentals, 25 percent of those have come on line in 2017. There may also be units that are not known to the City. Based on what has been occurring in other small towns in the U.S., the Council would like to get out in front of the trend before there are possible negative impacts on the community.
City Manager Brant Kucera, who came from another tourist town, Cannon Beach, cautioned the Planning Commission: "It is better to get commonplace regulations in place now, so you don't have to come up with draconian measures to correct a negative situation."
Regulating how someone makes use of their private property can be difficult. The Planning Commission will be looking at viable ways to cap the number of vacation rentals so that permanent full-time residents don't end up feeling they have lost their sense of community within their neighborhoods.
Other locales facing this issue, like Bend, have utilized a variety of regulations. In most towns, the short-term rental permit doesn't transfer with the sale of the property. Some limit the total number of units allowed; others set the limit at a certain percentage of total housing units. Bend requires 250-foot minimums between units to avoid saturation in one area. In some towns, the unit must have someone living onsite. The Planning Commission will take a look at all options, including the price of the short-term permit, to determine what might be best for Sisters.
The City does collect transient room tax from the short-term rentals, which amounted to $65,000 last year, compared to $475,000 from Sisters lodging establishments. Currently, there are 236 lodging units, meaning there is one short-term vacation rental for every six lodging units.
There will be a public hearing on the matter of vacation rentals before any new regulations are passed by City Council.
Posted: Wednesday, September 27, 2017
Article comment by:
The City of Sisters licensed three vacation rentals in 2006 and 2011 under our name. Two of the three are in a commercial zone and one is a cottage in Pine Meadows. The Nugget News made mention regarding the City of Cannon Beach that approached vacation rentals a number of years ago. One of the end results of their planning regarding future vacation rentals was to adopt a "grandfather" clause for currant owners of vacation rentals. My understanding is those grandfathered owners can sell their homes as vacation rentals and they are able to continue being licensed as vacation rentals. New rules were established by the City of Cannon Beach that did not hurt financially current owners. The vacation rentals currently licensed by the City of Sisters should be able to continue their licensing status in the future as long as they have fulfilled the requirements of licensing that made their original decision to invest in a Sisters vacation rental. Homes purchased for the use as vacation rentals should not be impugned as a result of the city not addressing this issue years ago. To my knowledge having been in the industry for almost ten years I have not heard of vacation rentals being anything other than an asset to the community in terms of dollars spent and events visited and have not seen any comments in The Nugget of problems with visitors to our small community regarding vacation rentals. I am surprised at the low percentage of units licensed in Sisters and can appreciate the city wanting to review its licensing for the future. But to redo our agreement with the city regarding the investment we made years ago to build for our retirement, to bring new visitors to our community and having a very capable manager these past 10 years to oversee our investment in Sisters would be to us a loss in our livelihood both now and the ability in the future to sell our cottage for the same purpose we bought it for.