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County seeks comments on proposed rental regulations posted on 01/01/2020

After several months of development process involving County Board of Commissioners deliberation and public opinion gathering, draft regulations for short-term rentals (STR) in unincorporated Clackamas County are available for public review and comment. The county will be seeking comment until the Thursday, Jan. 9 deadline.

“I have received a lot of comments throughout the whole process and expect to continue to do so,” said Clackamas County Senior Planner Martha Fritzie.

The draft proposal requires STR owners to register with the county and pay a fee to cover the costs of administration and enforcement of the regulations. The county estimates the fee will be between $800 and $900 for a two-year registration.

Public comments will be shared with the commissioners as they consider amendments and approval of the regulations later in the month. If approved, the new regulations are expected to become effective July 1, 2020.

In addition to a registration fee, STR owners will be required to provide the county information about their rental property including location, contact information for complaints, an affidavit of compliance with safety standards, proof of liability insurance, a site plan and dwelling floor plan. Owners will be required to provide proof that all county fees and taxes have been paid, including registration with the county’s Transient Lodging Tax program.

Betsy LaBarge, president of Mt Hood Vacation Rentals, cited compliance with the lodging tax program as an element of the regulations crucial to fostering tourism in the region.

“Tourism is everything for Mount Hood’s economy,” LaBarge said. “Without it we’d be sleepy communities with less going on.”

The regulations also address issues of community nuisance voiced by the public regarding STRs.

Maximum overnight occupancy for rentals will be restricted to two people per sleeping area plus two additional people, with no more than 15 people on premise. One off-street parking spot is required for every two sleeping areas to limit street congestion. Outdoor garbage containers will be required to be covered, with weekly scheduled pick-up. Rentals will be required to post quiet hours from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. in accordance with current county ordinances.

Building and fire safety requirements will be enforced by proposed regulations including mandatory smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, emergency escape routes, fire extinguishers and other code issues.

“Pretty much everything (the regulations require) we already do as a best business practice,” LaBarge said about the regulations’ impact on the 32 rental properties she currently manages. “We don’t want to be a bad neighbor.”

Draft regulations will only apply to rentals outside of city limits in unincorporated Clackamas County. Fritzie stated a significant addition to the regulations implemented by the board of commissioners during the last policy meeting will require that STRs inside the Portland metropolitan urban growth boundary be the owner’s primary residence or located on the same lot as the owner's primary residence.

Enforcement of the regulations will be carried out by the sheriff’s office or county code enforcement depending on the issue. Noncompliance with STR regulations will result in enforcement consequences including inspections, citations and fines, as well as potential revocation of registration.

Draft regulations are available for public review and comment online at www.clackamas.us/planning/str.

Data from the survey will be presented to the commissioners as they prepare for a Jan. 14 policy session to prepare STR amendments. This policy session will be followed by a Jan. 30 board of commissioners public hearing for the reading of the proposed amendments.

More information is available by contacting senior planner Martha Fritzie at mfritzie@clackamas.us or by phone at 503-742-4529.

By Ben Simpson/MT

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