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County moves forward with regulations on short term rentals posted on 03/31/2023

At a Wednesday, March 15 policy session, the Clackamas County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) voted to move forward on a policy proposal regarding regulation of Short Term Rentals (STRs). The only commissioner to vote against moving forward was Chair Tootie Smith.

“This issue has been going on for many years,” said Commissioner Mark Shull, one of the presenters of the proposal and the commissioner who visited the Mountain community in January to attend a meeting of the Hoodland Community Planning Organization that discussed regulating STRs. “It is a very emotional topic. We’ve listened to all these constituents, considered all their concerns and come up with this draft regulation.”

Commissioner Paul Savas, who worked on the proposal with Shull and also presented it to the BCC, noted that the effort was done with three things in mind: no impact to the county’s general fund, a reasonable entry for STR operators and a way to address how STRs can be good neighbors in the community.

“I think those are three essential points that are really, really important,” Savas said.

The proposal would require STR owners and operators to register via an online process that would include an affidavit covering a variety of topics, including life-safety requirements, occupancy limits, contact information and requirements such as off-street parking and garbage pickup. Owners and operators would also have to acknowledge their responsibility to collect and remit the Transient Lodging Tax (TLT), which is set at six percent in the county and applies to hotels and other establishments for stays of up to 30 days.

In his comments, Savas noted that there are approximately 639 payees of TLT within the county, with an estimate of 1,100 other operators who do not pay.

The proposed program would create a new position with the county, funded by revenue from the program, that would handle TLT and registration enforcement, customer service, inter-department coordination and other responsibilities.

Enforcement of the program would be complaint-driven, with no inspections involved, and would work with property owners to become compliant. The program would not require any further participation from the county code enforcement or from the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office beyond what they do currently.

Program funding would be through a surcharge of eight percent of the TLT for the property, and the county will explore one-time funding from the Clackamas County Tourism Development Council, which is expected to be up to $200,000, while also looking into if the county’s lottery revenue allotment could be used as well.

The proposed regulations would begin with a three-year pilot program, culminating in a report to the BCC. Savas noted the program is not expected to be a “profit generator.”

Other board members expressed some concerns over the proposal, including a need to clearly define what qualifies as an STR under the program, where the startup funding will come from and the rights of property owners. Language regarding potentially limiting the number of STRs after the completion of the pilot program was removed from the document before its approval.

Under the timeline included in the proposal document, policy advisors will reconcile feedback from the BCC, develop an outreach process and work on drafting code language. Public hearings and an adoption process are expected to take place starting in April and May.

“STRs across the nation are becoming more and more popular,” Shull said. “This draft … is in the best interest of all our neighborhoods. We cannot continue to have the unregulated situation we have now.”

For more information on the BCC, visit https://www.clackamas.us/bcc.

By Garth Guibord/MT





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