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County unveils short-term rental regulations posted on 08/31/2019

Clackamas County Planning Division presented a draft of potential regulations for Short-Term Rentals (STRs) on Aug. 6 to the Board of County Commissioners (BCC). The draft allows the controversial STRs in any legal, permanent dwelling in unincorporated Clackamas County, while STRs will be registered with the county, with properties that are rented for less than 30 days a year to be exempt from the registration. Proposed registration would be valid for two years and the fee for the registration will be established by the BCC.

“Currently the county has no regulations that are specific to STRs, and the county’s zoning code is silent on the question of whether short term rental of dwelling units is permitted,” said Jennifer Hughes, Clackamas County Planning Director during the meeting. “The goal of this project is to answer that question one way or the other, and if we’re going to allow them then to regulate them through a registration process.”

The Planning Division defines STRs as “a short-term rental, or vacation rental, is a dwelling unit, or portion of a dwelling unit, that is rented to any person or entity for a period of up to 30 consecutive nights.”

The county planning division conducted a public outreach program, including public meetings and surveys throughout the months of March and June.  On June 11 the BCC requested the planning division proceed with a first draft of regulations in the county code in order to allow and regulate STRs following a review of the public polls and input.

The regulations limit maximum overnight occupancy for STRs in the county to two persons per bedroom/sleeping area plus two additional persons with an exemption for children under two years of age. Maximum occupancy for the rental properties is not to exceed 15 people total. Off-street parking is required for the STRs with one space required per 2 sleeping areas with a minimum of one space. Properties can be listed with a reduced maximum occupancy if parking is limited.

The proposed regulations also cover mandatory safety elements needed for the STRs. Working smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are required to be installed and maintained in all sleeping areas and in the kitchen. Two working fire extinguishers are required per rental property.

Other regulations include pool and hot tub barriers and are required if applicable, all sleeping areas must have emergency escapes that are clearly accessible, all exterior building exits must be clear and useable for the renters, electrical wiring is required to be covered, fireplaces and flues must be maintained in accordance with recognized standards and are to be inspected and cleaned on a regular basis and wall outlets, switches and junction boxes are required to have appropriate covers in place.

The proposed regulations also prohibit the use of outdoor fire pits from June 15 through Sept. 15 at STRs, plus any additional “no burn” times, as determined by the Fire Marshal.

Occupants of the STRs are required to abide by the County’s current noise control ordinance and observe quiet hours from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. the following day. A notice must be posted on the premises that identifies the quiet hours.

“I’d like to make certain that on the noise ordinance end of things consequences are fairly significant,” said commissioner Ken Humberston during the Aug. 6 meeting.

Under the proposed regulations STRs are required to maintain weekly garbage pickup service during any week the rental property is occupied. All garbage receptacles must be covered.

The regulations require that property owner contact information be posted on the interior of the dwelling for the renter and on the exterior for neighbors.

According to the Planning Division, if the board chooses to move forward with a program to register and enforce regulation of STRs, there will potentially be a need for additional staffing and funding for the departments involved with the implementation and enforcement of the new regulations. The amount of additional staffing will be determined by the extent of the new regulations, how often the STR registrations must be renewed and the level of enforcement established.

The Planning and Zoning Division plans to schedule a final policy session in September to discuss registration fees and the administration of the program, including which departments will review and issue registrations as well as enforce the regulations.

The county will also seek public comments about the draft regulations over the next couple of months. There will be public hearings with the BCC before the board takes any final action on new regulations.

The draft regulations and additional information regarding STRs are available online at www.clackamas.us/planning/str. The Clackamas County Planning and Zoning Division can be reached by phone at 503-742-4500.

By Benjamin Simpson/MT

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