Curry County Considers Permitting Accessory Dwellings and Short-Term Rentals Outside Cities

Port Orford is currently working on commonsense regulations for our town aimed at governing Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) and Short-Term Rentals (STRs, aka vacation rentals). ADUs could help relieve the shortage of affordable housing by allowing additional structures to be built on properties that now are limited to just one dwelling. An ADU could then be used as a rental, either short- or long-term. But if an ADU is turned into another vacation rental (of which PO has many already), the lack of affordable housing will only worsen. We hope that the city will take time to study the situation, get good legal advice, and do what’s best, while avoiding the inevitable pressure to maximize investor profit above all.

Curry County’s not-so-sensitive solution to ADU and STR regulation, however, is barreling toward us at warp speed. If approved, multiple changes to county zoning will open up virtually all rural zones to ADUs and STRs. Other Oregon cities and counties have fought this, with some success. Those residents got fed up with the problems associated with unrestricted growth of this kind, driven in large part by outside investors and big marketer-managers such as Airbnb.

So what is the county proposing? When? How? The county planning commission is holding a hearing on July 21 that will be the first shot in an effort to change county codes on ADUs, STRs, and more. It’s a BIG agenda! (Also on the docket is approval of a seven-parcel subdivision off Cemetery Loop, just outside the city limits, in the Urban Growth Boundary.)

If the changes are approved, STRs in unincorporated rural areas will be permitted under land use regulations – in addition to being licensed as businesses, the way it is done in PO. So even though these STRs in the UGB may be literally down the street from our homes in PO, we will have no say in regulating them. They will be locked in via land use permits with the county, which are difficult to oppose. And if the STR is also an accessory dwelling, the impacts will be doubled.

These next-door rentals will not have the same rules, and they will certainly affect life in PO. We foresee problems with density, liveability, traffic, affordable housing, as well as stresses on businesses and public services in our towns – not to mention nuisances or even crime. Good luck getting the BOC to pay attention to our problems up here in Far North County then.

Now is the time to be aware and get involved! The good news is that we’re still in the early stage, before the planning commission. But if the BOC goes ahead and approves these changes on a recommendation from the planning commission, we will have little recourse. In Clatsop County, outraged residents are right now gathering signatures for a ballot referendum to overturn their STR ordinance. It can be done, but why not stop it now?

Here is a link to the meeting agenda: July 21, 2022 Planning Commission Hearing Notice

This link is to a list of documents laying out the code changes to be considered: July 21, 2022 Planning Commission Documents