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STRaining the Housing Market? 

Bend considers new development codes for Airbnbs and VRBOs, in what would be the first tweaks in seven years

The Bend Planning Commission could change how the City of Bend regulates short-term housing rentals like Airbnb and VRBO. In March, Bend City Councilors directed staff to implement changes in the Bend Development Code with the intention of securing more options for affordable long-term rentals. Some Bendites expressed concern that short-term rentals could strain an already tight housing market, and that it attracts noisy tenants unsuitable for quiet neighborhoods.

click to enlarge COURTESY OF THE CITY OF BEND
  • Courtesy of the City of Bend

Over 330 short-term rental owners in Bend participated in a survey, with many respondents indicating support for incentives to rent longer. One proposed change would repeal the proof of use requirement, which revokes short term rental operating licenses if a property is not rented as a short-term rental for over a year. The change would allow short-term rental permit holders to rent properties as long-term rentals without losing their licenses.

The City currently doesn't allow new short-term rentals within 250 of an existing one, but another proposed amendment could double the distance to 500 feet. Neighbors within 500 feet are notified a short-term rental is setting up shop through mailed notices of public hearings.

Short-term rental licenses currently are only available after a landowner obtains a land-use permit and an STR operating license, pays $280 application fee and then annually renews their application for a $205 fee. A report on short-term rentals by the City from March shows the market for short-term rentals didn't increase much over the past few years. Between 2018 and 2020 the number of whole-house short-term rentals rose slightly from 803 to 835 while the number of housing units rose from 42,630 to 44,152.

In the survey, owners cited personal use of the property, cost and tenant relations as barriers to renting long-term. Forty-one percent of the respondents lived at the rental property, 32% live in Central Oregon, 25% live out of state and 2% live outside of the country. Only 15% owned more than one short-term rental.

The City last amended its short-term rental code in 2015 with the intention to "balance the interests of Bend's tourist economy and neighborhood livability." The planning commission is scheduled to meet twice to work on code changes; first with a work session at 5:30 pm on Aug. 22 and again for a public hearing, where the community can give feedback on proposed changes, on Sept. 12.

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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