Begging for Forgiveness

Aug 1, 2014 | 2 comments

The Stoner House, 2006

The Stoner House, 2006

Last week at the public hearing for a special use permit, the applicant said that he had heretofore been renting out his Oysterville house on weekends without benefit of a vacation rental license… because he didn’t know one was necessary. Okaaaay…

One of the members of the public questioned Hearing Examiner Tim Croce about that. “Aren’t there going to be consequences for that?” she asked. As in, is ignorance a good excuse for not following the laws in Pacific County?

The answer was very interesting. According to Mr. Croce, there are probably twice as many illegal vacation rentals on the Peninsula as there are legal ones.  (Someone else put those numbers at 2,000 and 1,000 respectively.) Mr. Croce said that when someone finally comes forward to engage in the legal process, it’s actually points in their favor. Unfortunately, I can see the logic of that, but not the justice.

There were a dozen or so from Oysterville at the hearing. Eight of us spoke out or had written letters against the special use permit. Our reasons varied. Most had to do with the very quiet atmosphere of Oysterville and the fact that we only have thirteen full-time residents. Vacation rentals, as Seaview citizens know, can be extremely problematic. Especially in a community as remote as ours.

The Oysterville Guest House

The Oysterville Guest House

There is already one vacation rental in town that has been operating successfully for fourteen years. I believe that part of the reason for its success is that the landlords also own the adjacent property and are often in residence to provide oversight over the Guest House. The applicants for this second vacation rental, although present for the hearing, live in Portland and Bangkok.

Two neighbors (who live in Arizona seven or eight months of the year) spoke in favor of the new rental application. We wondered if they might be the next to apply. In fact, I left the hearing wondering how many of the twenty-plus village homes with part-time residents might jump on this bandwagon. The wife-applicant actually suggested the vacation rental scheme as a way to make money so that “owners could buy paint or other supplies to fix up their places.” Oy vey…

Well, as we all expected, the application was approved. It was the old “it’s easier to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission” rule. Works perfectly in Pacific County, apparently. What was most confusing, though, was why have a hearing? Who listened?

2 Comments

  1. Bill

    Appeal the ruling to the commissioners

    Reply
  2. Kathleen Shaw

    Tim Croce is right–the place next to mine is a good example. The other nearby owners were under the impression that the owner of said cottage wants to turn it into a vacation rental and wants to discuss it with us (but hadn’t actually done so yet). She also wants to keep it off the books to avoid the county’s fees. So two weeks ago I spoke to a nice couple staying there, wondering if they were family–no no, they were on vacation, and they were not the first, there were “guest books” in there going back a couple of years! The forthcoming “discussion” could be interesting.

    Reply

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