There appears to be a strong push and pull between full-time residents of some West side neighborhoods and the homeowners who use their homes as short-term, nightly or weekly furnished rentals. For many years, people have been vacationing in Sunriver or Black Butte by renting houses in those resort communities. But recently, within the past 5-8 years, due to the influx of fantastic breweries, restaurants, and cultural events centered in the town of Bend, visitors have shifted their lodging preferences to staying in homes near the downtown core area of Bend. As real estate prices have increased with the rebounding economy, and industry remains limited for good jobs in Bend, many have chosen to increase their rental income with this option. The tourists who stay in these homes come here to ski, go out to dinner, go shopping, and generally SPEND MONEY in our town. As a result, Bend has seen extraordinary growth and prosperity for its local businesses and the residents who work and also enjoy those same establishments in the past few years. For a town of our size with very few good paying jobs, our town is thriving. This is due to the tourism industry and vacation rentals play a fairly grand role in this impressive growth.
Here are the basics about the current debate within the city about regulation (below is an excerpt from a summary written by a concerned citizen):
The City of Bend is currently considering restricting vacation rentals or even placing a cap on the number of vacation rentals allowed in the city. In particular, they may create a limit to the number of vacation rentals allowed in certain neighborhoods. The city council will be voting on November 19. There is a public hearing on October 1; if you would like to present testimony, please attend the public hearing.
Doug Laplaca, the Executive Director of Visit Bend indicated that 18% of tourism dollars coming into Bend are from vacation rental guests and that the average vacation rental guest spends $100/day in Bend. According to TravelOregon research (2011), the average visitor to Central Oregon spent $107/day. Visit Bend also noted that there were several sold out weekends in Bend this past summer with no lodging available, emphasizing that vacation rental guests are not taking business away from the hotels; there is a higher demand than there is supply in the city. There are 2 hotel projects in the "pipeline" that will not be available for at least a few years.
The 3 top "solutions" that the City of Bend is considering:
1. A temporary suspension of vacation rentals in specific neighborhoods; Century West, River West, Old Bend, (these are the neighborhoods they are hearing from the most)
2. All vacation rentals that are not properly permitted are to stop renting (also considering moving to an annual permitting at close to $500 each year)
3. Existing permitted vacation rentals are going to be reviewed and perhaps revoked
The City of Bend, much like the Portland officials have heard mostly from the neighbors who do not like vacation rentals. They are hearing a lot of the same arguments about noise, garbage, parking, parties, livability issues and decreased affordable housing. The city is also concerned about vacation rentals that do not have a local designated manager or caretaker. There is discussion about requiring all owners or managers of vacation rentals to list an after-hours phone number and contact person with their permits. The city has not heard very much from vacation rental professionals and property managers. At this time, Bend city officials do not even know what they want to vote on nor do they fully understand what the vacation rental industry is.
Vacation Rental Managers in Bend are hoping to delay the vote on November 19 until they have more time to fully educate the city officials and work with them on reasonable and fair regulations. (END EXCERPT)
Some ideas for fair regulations for vacation rentals:
From Anna's desk