Seaside signal. (Seaside, Or.) 1905-current, April 29, 2016, Page 7A, Image 7

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    April 29, 2016 • Seaside Signal • seasidesignal.com • 7A
Rental rules cause controversy ‘Cadillac’ health
plan drives up
Gearhart budget
Rules from Page 1A
Proposed rules specify that
the use of a home for a vaca-
tion rental shall not exceed one
rental within seven consecu-
tive calendar days and limit the
number of guests per bedroom,
off-street parking spaces and
septic system capacity. The reg-
ulations also mandate a 24-hour
owner representative and notice
to neighbors .
Short-term rental fees
to ofset increases
By R.J. Marx
Three minutes each
Seaside Signal
Speakers, limited to three
minutes each, covered the gam-
ut, from adoption of the pro-
posed rules to calls to abandon
the regulation process altogether.
“Short-term rentals are part
of the core of Gearhart,” resi-
dent Harold Gable said.
Gable and others urged
“universal enforcement” of the
present ordinances rather than
adoption of the regulations.
Lynn Nichols and a handful
of those who declared them-
selves “neutral” asked the com-
mission to compromise. “We
don’t want to become the U.S.
Congress,” Nichols said.
Penny Sabol said the Gear-
hart comprehensive plan is a
legally enforceable document.
The document, dating to 1994,
includes language stating “the
city of Gearhart will preserve
and maintain its predominantly
residential character through
appropriate zoning and land use
regulations.”
Rick Sabol asked the com-
mission to “do your jobs and
interpret the plan correctly.”
Gearhart Golf Course
Manager Matt Brown said
short-term rentals depleted the
availability of long-term rental
homes, making it dificult for
businesses to ind employees.
Many employees must drive
45 miles away, he said, because
of the lack of long-term rentals.
Others spoke of the noise
and nuisance posed by short-
term rentals and guests, and the
risks to Gearhart’s residential
character.
Jeanne Mark warned of the
city “morphing into an all-out
tourist destination.”
Wilson Mark added that
the actions of short-term rental
owners “will likely kill the vibe
and feeling Gearhart has. It will
make Gearhart not a gem that it
is, but something more generic.”
Planning costs, legal fees
and health insurance are
driving the Gearhart budget
to almost $1.7 million, up
about $200,000 from last
year. Some of these costs
will be addressed by pro-
posed short-term rental fees,
which could bring in about
$140,000 in revenue, City
Administrator Chad Sweet
said.
In a public meeting on
the budget with members
of the City Council and
the Budget Committee last
week, Councilor Dan Jesse
questioned health care costs.
“The igures seem quite
high for 10 employees,” Jes-
se said.
Jesse said numbers are
slightly more than $250,000
for those 10 employees, or
$25,400 a year per employ-
ee, averaging $12.21 per
employee hour of work.
“We’re a small commu-
nity with limited resources,”
Jesse said. “Out of the total
budget, it’s a huge amount
of money.”
The plan, contracted with
Citycounty Insurance Ser-
vices, “does have the best
rate for the type of plan we
have, but it was made to be
a Cadillac plan, so we’re
going to be making adjust-
ments,” Sweet said.
The employees’ health
care plan is set to expire
at the end of the year and
would be reviewed then, he
added.
R.J. MARX/SEASIDE SIGNAL
Residents ill the Gearhart irehouse to share their thoughts on short-term rentals.
FAR LEFT PHOTO:
Catherine Rondthaler
ights back tears as
she tells commission-
ers she fears the loss
of her Gearhart home
if short-term rental
regulations are put in
place.
LEFT: Former Gearhart
mayor Kent Smith
speaks in favor of
short-term rental
regulations.
JEFF TER HAR/FOR SEASIDE SIGNAL
Bill Berg, author of the book
“Gearhart Remembered: An
Informal History,” and former
mayor Kent Smith both spoke
in favor of adopting short-term
rental regulations.
“I implore the Planning
Commission to chomp down on
regulations on this,” Smith said.
“I want to make sure we enforce
our zoning code.”
Carol Lucas, who lives along
the heavily traveled Ridge Path,
said short-term renters often
woke her up or looked into her
windows. “We need to have
residential zones be residential
only,” she said, in advocating
regulation.
License limit
Steve Weed, however, ob-
jected to the 35-license limit.
“Thirty-ive people will get
golden tickets,” he said. “I can’t
think of anything more ruinous
to Gearhart than to do that.”
Property owners Bob and
R.J. MARX/SEASIDE SIGNAL
Clare Carson also balked at li-
cense limits, calling the number
“arbitrary and capricious.”
“If you’re going to have reg-
ulations, they need to be equally
applied,” Bob Carson said.
Those who are renting their
homes are losing a right without
receiving fair compensation,
Carson added.
Attorney Dean Alterman
of Portland, representing ive
homeowners, warned of legal
action and asked the city to
“employ and enforce” existing
codes rather than enact new
ones. Others called it a “tak-
ing” — a government seizure
of their property. “I will pros-
ecute and defend my property
rights,” David Remer said to
applause.
Short-term rental property
owner Marcia McLeary said
she had “never had any prob-
lems” and always notiied
neighbors when hosting guests.
“I urge you not to make it
tough on us who make an effort
and do everything by the book,”
McLeary said.
Others urged the commis-
sion to consider evidence from
both sides.
Marshall Leathers and oth-
ers said the only way they could
stay in Gearhart is to rent their
homes.
Rule changes go “far be-
yond” common sense mea-
sures, he said.
Catherine Rondthaler fought
back tears as she told the com-
missioners without the option of
a short-term rental, “We would
have to sell the house. To walk
away from a beach house that’s
been in my family for 50 years
would break my heart.”
No action was taken at the
meeting.
Planning
commissioners
agreed to keep the record open
and welcomed submissions pri-
or to a continuation of the hear-
ing May 12 at the irehouse.
Brew pub appeal on tap in Gearhart
Council to reconsider
grocery switch
By R.J. Marx
Seaside Signal
Merits of a proposed brew
pub in Gearhart will be con-
sidered by the City Council at
a public hearing at the Gearhart
Fire Station May 3.
An appeal to a Planning
Commission decision to grant
a conditional use permit to the
brew pub was iled early this
month by ive residents.
The owners of Gearhart
Grocery want to convert the
business to a cafe and brew
pub, but have faced some com-
munity opposition.
“The overriding thing is
there is not a need for another
cafe location, and not just what
they are calling a cafe, but a
brew pub,” said Jeanne Mark,
one of those who signed the
appeal. “We have a brew pub
less than a mile away. They’re
R.J. MARX
The owners of Gearhart Grocery would like to convert the busi-
ness into a brew pub.
pushing ‘there is a need.’ There
is no need.”
Mark and opponents of the
plan say the brew pub is con-
trary to Gearhart’s comprehen-
sive plan.
They say septic facilities are
inadequate and the city needs to
retain its only grocery store.
“The Planning Commis-
sion, as a vote of the majority,
believes the cafe that’s coming
in met the conditions that were
required,” City Administrator
Chad Sweet said. “The appeal
is based on the fact that people
think they did not meet those
requirements and there may not
be a need for this type of restau-
rant in town.”
In March, planning com-
missioners voted 4-3 to OK the
transition of Gearhart Grocery
at 599 Paciic Way to a brew
pub.
The city’s comprehensive
plan indicates stores in the city’s
central zone should “provide
needed supporting services to
the locals or resident commu-
nity,” opponents to the brew
pub plan state in the appeal.
“It’s tragic,” Mark said. “It’s
a whole sensibility that’s being
dismissed. Once it’s gone, it’s
gone. You can’t replace that.”
The grocery is owned by
Molly and Terry Lowenberg of
Sum Properties in Seaside.
In submissions to the Plan-
ning Commission, they told
the city competition outside
Gearhart made their business
unproitable. “Understandably
people want to keep their mar-
ket,” Sweet said. “That with-
standing, you can’t force some-
one to keep a business that they
don’t want to continue to do.”
The City Council has decid-
ed to hear the case on May 3 de
novo, “which means all over
again,” Sweet said. “It’s anoth-
er opportunity for someone to
make a different decision.”
The decision of the council
could be appealed to the state’s
Land Use Board of Appeals.
Other increases
The planning budget
sees increases as a result of
transportation system plan-
ning, park master planning
and legal fees, Sweet said.
“That’s in anticipation of
some of the short-term rent-
al conversations we’re hav-
ing now,” Sweet said.
Building inspection fees
will jump by more than a
third in anticipation of new
rules on short-term rentals,
with a part-time adminis-
trative assistant planned to
handle some duties.
The City Council is in the
midst of public hearings on
registration and licensing of
transient properties — those
rented for less than 30 days
— which could be adopted
this year.
Part-time Building Ofi-
cial Jim Brien will be used
as a consultant in the irst
year before considering
money for a full-time code
enforcement oficer, Sweet
said.
“Until I know what nor-
mal is, I don’t want to hire
someone,” Sweet said. “I’ve
put aside $40,000 in code
enforcement. It depends if
the council allows 35 per-
mits, or allows everybody
to do it or somewhere in
IT’S A L M O S T TIM E!
Your LifeC a re m em bership
m a teria ls w ill be a rriving
in your m a ilbox soon...
between. If we go to zero
permits, we’ll have to ig-
ure out how to ind funding,
but that’s for conversations
later. I’m basing this on our
best guess at this point.”
City revenue is derived
from property tax, franchise
fees for companies such as
utilities and transient rental
tax dollars, Sweet said. He
anticipated about $140,000
in vacation rental income
based on the 73 short-term
rental properties tallied by
the city.
“If the number goes to
zero, we’ll have to discuss
that,” Sweet said.
The
city
receives
$200,000 from condos and
hotels, he added.
‘We’re a small
community with
limited resources.
Out of the total
budget, it’s a
huge amount
of money.’
City Councilor Dan Jesse
Nonproit support
Gearhart’s budget in-
cludes funds for a wide
variety of Clatsop County
nonproits, including social
services,
environmental
management and hazard
mitigation.
A budget line of $10,000
addresses a mapping of sen-
sitive areas such as wetlands
and fens. The North County
Land Conservancy will in-
ventory land in Gearhart
and provide information on
how they perform and what
the city can do to maintain
them, City Administrator
Chad Sweet said. “It’s not
regulatory, but when there
is an incursion in these ar-
eas, the city can do what it
needs to repair them.”
The city will provide
support of $2,000 for the
Oregon Badge Foundation
in honor of Jason Good-
ding, the Seaside police of-
icer killed in February.
The budget also includes
expenditures for the Sea-
side Youth Center, Animal
Control, the South County
Food Bank and the Harbor.
Hazard mitigation re-
serve funds increase from
$5,000 to $10,040, to be
used on signs, cache stor-
age, maps or projects
with the city’s Communi-
ty Emergency Response
Team.
The budget was unan-
imously approved by the
City Council and the Bud-
get Committee and will be
presented for a reading at a
future City Council meet-
ing for a vote by the council
alone.
L ife Ca re
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listed on your tax forms,
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