Livability: A Community Conversation

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Posting on behalf of Kim Rosenberg.

Livability: A Community Conversation

For those of you who don’t watch the City Council meetings–WHY NOT?
It’s like reality TV or maybe a soap opera only without an island or Susan Lucci. Plus, you get to be part of democracy and how cool is that?

At the last council meeting Mayor Scott tabled discussion on the formation of a standing Short Term Rental Oversight Committee for the next meeting of the council March 9. Why? Because people started using the CHAT feature to ask questions and make comments. So instead of voting right then, Mayor Scott slowed the roll and I’m glad he did.

The Oversight Group was formed to tackle the ways in which livability here is affected by short-term rentals. In some parts of town, it’s more like living next door to a Motel 6 than living in a neighborhood. During the season, which is most of the year these days, it can be stressful. Little things like people throwing trash in your garbage can or worse in your yard or people blasting music while hosting an all day corn hole tournament add up and after awhile, you just want solutions to the problems you deal with all the time. Thus, the Oversight Group was formed.

In the current Oversight Group there’s one full-time resident, a council member who Chairs, a Planning Commissioner, and three people who don’t live here at all but do own or manage rentals in Manzanita.

Creating a new standing committee is the perfect opportunity for our Council to diversify its make up and represent folks who live here either part or full time and are affected the most in their daily lives by vacation rentals.

People who don’t live in town don’t experience vacation rentals in the way a person who lives here part or full time does. Rental management companies know what the problems are–they get the phone calls from angry residents but since they don’t live in town, it’s more a mental exercise than a lived experience.

I mean, you can hear all about a vacation rental party house but until you’re washing high-octane vomit off your driveway on a Sunday morning after a noisy Saturday night in July, you have not experienced the wonder that is the vacation rental party house.

Most everyone has big feeling about short-term rentals in our community–all sides have big feelings and those big feelings have created animosity, anger, and mistrust, between us. It’s my understanding that forming this work group was meant to address livability in town. It seems to me that living in a place is a very different thing than working in that place and driving away at the end of the day.

And then there’s the way it looks when three people with an investment in what they’re meant to regulate make up the majority of the committee. I’m not saying that these folks who volunteered their time and energy have done anything wrong at all. But how things look really does matter. If things don’t look right to the people in the cheap seats, there’s a problem, Houston.

Why add the appearance of a conflict of interest to the committee when it isn’t necessary? There are plenty of people living here part or full time who want to be part of this committee. If there aren’t any property management owners living in Manzanita who want to volunteer, which might be the case, why not use a representative as a non-voting consultant to present information and put their two cents in?

How do we include different and diverse perspectives so that the standing committee truly addresses the needs and feelings of our community?
Who can speak to livability in Manzanita better than part or full time residents? Some part time folks use their homes for themselves AND rent sometimes.
There are also second homeowners who don’t rent at all. There are those who live in town full time and a few of those folks own businesses in town. We could use all these perspectives to have a real conversation about short-term rentals and their impact on our town and its livability.

On Wednesday, March 9 at the next Council Workshop from 3-5 the only thing on the agenda is The Future of Short-Term Rentals. At the workshops you’re able to ask questions and make comments. You’ll be part of the discussion. You’ll be part of democracy. After the workshop is the Council Meeting at 6, so if you can’t make it to one maybe you can make it to the other! You can also write an email to the Mayor, Council and City Manager (you can cc everyone) and tell them what you think. The beauty of a public meeting where people can say what they think is all the new solutions that can pop up when we get together to solve a problem.

Democracy is messy and loud but we don’t have to be mean and rude. We can be respectful of other people’s opinions (even when we don’t agree at all) and we can be open to the idea that somewhere in the middle is the way forward.

We’ve got this, kids. We can do this.

Link to Zoom and Comment at the City of Manzanita Council Work Session:

Link to watch only the City of Manzanita Council Work Session:

Kim Rosenberg.