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Housing for Hire 

Data collected on short term rentals will look into its effect on housing costs

Bend City Councilor Anthony Broadman requested that short term rental data that the City started collecting over the summer be paired with a conversation on policies that could be used if STRs are shown to exacerbate Central Oregon's housing crisis.

Broadman said he isn't advocating for a specific policy yet, and any decision would have to be data-driven, but that there's a lot of community feedback on STRs' impact on housing affordability and on the character of neighborhoods.

A sign advertises that a property is a vacation rental in the Old Bend neighborhood. - JACK HARVEL
  • Jack Harvel
  • A sign advertises that a property is a vacation rental in the Old Bend neighborhood.

"What I want to see is analysis about the numbers of units that we currently have, growth, contraction, and really some analysis of the effect that STRs have on home affordability," Broadman told the Source. "This data is coming, but I thought it's also important to have narrowly tailored regulatory options that staff believes are appropriate or something that we should at least consider."

AirDNA, a website that tracks Airbnb and VRBO listings in real time, reports 1,163 active rentals in Bend's city limits.

"It does seem true that folks in our community think we have way too many of these things, and we should be doing more to limit the number of them," Bend City Councilor Barb Campbell told the Source.

The range of policy options available to the City includes a moratorium on permits, creating a cap on the number of STRs and changing zoning laws so STRs aren't a use-by-right in mixed-use and/or commercial areas. In 2015 the City required new STRs to be at least 250 feet from already-existing STRs and made permits expire with the sale of the property. In September the City Council approved changes to its development code to adhere to the newly passed HB 2001, and in the process fixed a loophole in those rules that allowed duplexes, triplexes and apartment complexes to circumvent the density requirement to be at least 250 feet from other STRs. Now only one unit in any multifamily housing may be an STR.

"I'm open to whatever is an efficient regulatory mechanism to make sure that this is the community we all want to live in," Broadman said.

Both councilors said there's no desire to revoke any existing STR permits, and that STRs are just one piece of the housing crisis, but that they need to maintain a standard of living for the residents of Bend.

"We are kind of a tourist town, but unlike Vail, unlike even maybe Tahoe, we were a working town before we became more of a tourist town. And we are still very much a community of folks who are working and living their lives," Campbell said.

The City Council will get STR data and hold a policy discussion on potential STR regulation at a work session in March.

About The Author

Jack Harvel

Jack is originally from Kansas City, Missouri and has been making his way west since graduating from the University of Missouri, working a year and a half in Northeast Colorado before moving to Bend in the Spring of 2021. When not reporting he’s either playing folk songs (poorly) or grand strategy video games,...
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