STR Regulations Proposed at Public Hearing
By Michele M. Winner
The August 10th Board of County Commissioners of Clackamas County’s Business Meeting Agenda included a public hearing on the “Ordinance Adopting Clackamas County Code Chapter 8.10, Short-Term Rentals” (STRS). The county does not have a regulation or registration program for STRs. Prior Boards adopted amendments to the county code, but implementation was delayed and later repealed. (Repeal of Ord. 09-2020 by adoption of Ord. 02-2022 on 9/9/22.) In March 2023, Commissioners Paul Savas and Mark Shull presented a ”Revised Proposal for Short-Term Rental Enforcement.”
The proposal contains a mandatory registration pilot program for STRs in unincorporated Clackamas County. Because most STRs in unincorporated Clackamas County are located from Mt. Hood to the Sandy city limits, there was a good turnout by the Mountain community. County Counsel Stephen Madkour began the hearing on the STR proposal with a first reading of the ordinance.
The proposed regulations require all eligible STRs to apply for registration. It will also identify STRs who do not pay their required county Transient Lodging Tax (TLT) and state lodging taxes. The registration application will include affidavits agreeing to compliance with STR registration requirements, including maximum occupancy, noise, parking, garbage pick-up, building and fire safety standards, and require the name and contact info of the “responsible party” to be posted on STR and visible from the street.
The administration fee is .85% of the nightly rental rate. For every one-hundred dollars in rent, eighty-five cents is collected from the guest and paid to the county. The program is to be self-funded by this fee. It will cost nothing to register an STR. The Tourism Development Council committed $200,000 of Transient Lodging Tax funds to help with one-time start-up costs for this two-year pilot program.
Many mountain residents, business owners, organized community groups in favor of regulation and STR owners and operators attended the meeting in person or via Zoom. They gave testimony about their experiences regarding the STRs affecting their quality of life and asked how immediate issues with an STR would be resolved. The proposal states that the first attempt to resolve a conflict with an STR occupant falls on the affected neighbor to speak to the property’s guest, representative, or owner. If there is no response in 24 hours, the administrator for the program, housed in the Clackamas County Department of Finance, would be the point of contact to enforce violations of the STR code. Many said they felt unsafe contacting STR guests in person and commented that there is only one sheriff for 42 miles of Clackamas County.
Residents were concerned that the proposal did not address fire issues. Several testified that they fear losing their homes and lives to fire, stating that it is only a matter of time before the area burns because people ignore fire bans, some fire pits are not to code or under trees, and many people leave them unattended or are not prepared to put them out safely. Testimony also included loud parties, cars blocking roads preventing emergency vehicle access, excessive noise violations, aging septic systems accommodating more people more frequently fouling groundwater, hot tubs next door and too near their bedrooms and a litter problem due to a lack of bear-proof garbage cans. For more info on the proposed regulations, see this link: www.clackamas.us/str.
Attend the second public hearing on September 7 at 10 a.m. in person at 2051 Kaen Road, via Zoom or email testimony to firstname.lastname@example.org.