In Warrenton, a vacation rental turns into a burr for the city

·3 min read

Jul. 21—WARRENTON — In January, the City Commission granted an exception for a vacation rental in a residential neighborhood on Honeysuckle Loop.

That decision would come back to bite the city as neighbors have complained of noise and overcrowding.

"The thing that really bothers me Henry, is, once again, we help somebody and it bites us in the butt. Every time," City Commissioner Rick Newton told Mayor Henry Balensifer during a City Commission meeting last week. "I don't have a problem revoking it because we did her a favor letting her do that and we didn't get what we should've.

"It's time for us to pull the cord and say, 'Nope.'"

The city is moving forward with a stop-work order on the vacation rental. Marissa Lauren, the homeowner, did not participate in the commission meeting last week and could not be reached for comment.

Tensions over vacation rentals in residential neighborhoods on the North Coast have led to calls for tighter government restrictions. Short-term rentals have become increasingly popular as the region evolves into a tourist destination, but rentals help drive up housing prices and contribute to Clatsop County's housing crunch.

The vacation rental on Honeysuckle Loop, a duplex that sits in a neighborhood that also includes apartments and other multiunit housing, is one small example of the challenge.

Despite vacation rentals not being allowed in residential high density zones, the City Commission made an exception. Another vacation rental the homeowner operates in Hammond, which is also in a residential high density zone, was granted an exception, too.

At the January meeting, Commissioner Mark Baldwin noted that the city reserved the right to rescind the exceptions if there were problems at either location.

In a matter of time, problems began to pile up when neighbors reported excessive noise, an overflow of parked cars and up to 12 people renting out both sides of the duplex, when only one side was supposed to be used as a vacation rental.

"Sometimes, there are a lot of people that go in and out of there," said Andrew Dylan, who lives in an apartment across the street. "It's pretty ridiculous.

"I try to not get too bothered by it, but it can be (a nuisance)," he said.

Other neighbors said they had not noticed anything unusual at the duplex. Some were unaware it was used as a vacation rental. One neighbor said the only noticeable noise came during the Fourth of July, but it was expected for such a holiday.

During the City Commission meeting last week, commissioners deliberated what to do.

"It's ridiculous people come from out of town and do this in our neighborhoods," Baldwin said.

Newton pointed to the potential safety hazard if the reports from neighbors were accurate. "Having 12 people in that house at one time is no different than not having smoke detectors," he said.

Balensifer said "there is anguish, angst, damages being incurred by that neighborhood by the use of this facility that had specific requirements upon it that we agreed to and not being followed."

If the homeowner does not comply with the stop-work order, the city could seek to revoke the other vacation rental in Hammond.

"This is a clear violation and we have to take care of the residents first," the mayor said.

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