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City struggles to craft policy on home-stay residences

By Cindy Yingst, Friday, September 7, 2018

There are more than a dozen Warrenton homes listed with Airbnb, an online company that matches travelers with available rooms in residents’ homes.

All those listings are illegal in the city of Warrenton; current city codes do not allow them.

Finding a solution has created a quandary for the City Commission, which held a workshop on home stays Tuesday evening.

“We’re trying to be ahead of the game -- pre-emptive – however you want to say it,” Commissioner Rick Newton said.

Other coastal communities, including Cannon Beach, Lincoln City and Manzanita, have dealt with housing problems after they’ve surfaced, he said.

Two Warrenton property owners spoke about their current and future plans and what they hope to see in the city’s home-stay rules, should the city adopt them.

“I’m wondering what you’re so concerned about,” said Krista Bingham, who now lives in Costa Rica but owns a five-bedroom house in Warrenton. “If you’re already receiving room tax and bed tax … (do you need) fines, inspections, approvals? I think the city is biting off more than it can chew. You’ll have to hire someone to do those inspections.”

Lisa Lamping, who rents a portion of her Main Avenue property to visitors about 130 days per year, wanted to see more dialogue and involvement from residents.

“I really wish we could back up the whole train,” Lamping said. “My concern is that one size does not always fit all.”

Commissioners agreed the new rules would require those offering home-stay rooms to obtain a city business license, provide adequate off-street parking and have a designated person in charge on the premises.

While Warrenton hasn’t had the problem of other cities, allowing home stays within the city requires the designation to be added to city codes with enforceable rules in place, City Manager Linda Engbretson said.

Setting limits on vacation and home-stay properties is important because there is an available housing crises in Clatsop County, Commissioner Tom Dyer said.

“When we can’t find housing for people and we’re trying to draw businesses, we have to have places for them to live,” Dyer said.

“If we don’t license it some way, … it becomes a problem for all the neighbors and the city,” Commissioner Mark Baldwin said. “I don’t want to control anybody. I want to know what’s going on with my neighborhood.”

The policy on home-stay residences will return to the City Commission at a future meeting.

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