The Economic Impacts of Vacation Rental Dwellings in Lincoln City

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1 The Economic Impacts of Vacation Rental Dwellings in Lincoln City Prepared by: Richard Townsend Planning & Community Development Director May 2016 City of Lincoln City Planning & Community Development Department 801 SW Highway 101 Lincoln City, OR 97367

2 Table of Contents Introduction 3 Positive Impacts 5 Adverse Impacts 9 2

3 Introduction Over recent years there has been controversy over allowing and regulating vacation rental dwellings (VRDs) in areas zoned for residential use. Some see VRDs as commercial intrusions into residential neighborhoods. They express concerns about noise, traffic, scattering of trash and garbage, monopolization of on-street parking, and constant introduction and turnover of strangers in their neighborhoods as well as loss of a sense of community. They also assert that VRDs reduce the housing stock for full time residents. Others see VRDs as economically important uses compatible with other nominally residential uses. They accept that, like many other uses, VRDs sometimes have nuisance-type problems that can be adequately addressed through enforcement of nuisance regulations. Moreover, they see VRDs as a means of producing wealth for their owners through both increased property value and rental income. The graph below shows the changes in the number of VRDs (the vertical axis) in both commercial and residential zones in Lincoln City from 1989 through 2015 (the horizontal axis). Beginning in 2014, the graph includes Roads End which the city annexed in Table 1: Number of VRDs in Lincoln City, by year and zoning,

4 The drop in the number of VRDs in 2015 reflects the removal of VRDs that could not meet the new health and safety standards. That year 80 VRDs closed, compared to an average of 25 closing each year over the previous five years. Outside of Roads End, the number of VRDs in the city peaked at 349 in Including Roads End, the total number of VRDs that year was 529. The total number of VRDs increased each year without a break from 1989 until Fluctuations since 2009 in the total number of VRDs outside of Roads End may reflect the state of the economy during those years, or may indicate that some sort of market limit has been reached, at least for a time. Alternatively, it may indicate a wait-and-see attitude arising from investor uneasiness regarding the city s uncertain regulatory climate, and VRD growth may pick up again once things become more settled. In any event, as of January 1, 2016, Lincoln City had a total of 467 VRDs. Of these, 66 were in commercial zones and 387 were in residential zones. Within the residential zones VRDs were distributed as follows: In the R-1-5 (Single-family, 5,000 square foot minimum lot size) zone, 173 VRDs In the R (Single-family, 7,500 square foot minimum lot size) zone, 12 VRDs In the R-R (Recreation Residential) zone, 1 VRD In the NCR (Nelscott Cottage Residential) zone, 5 VRDs In the R-M (Multi-family residential) zone, 20 VRDs In the R-1-A County (Single-family, 6,000 square foot minimum lot size; Roads End) zone, 176 VRDs The first part of this report focuses on the positive impacts of VRDs. The second part focuses on adverse impacts. Each describes the nature of several impacts. In some cases, the report quantifies them; however, in the majority of cases quantification is not feasible. 4

5 Positive Impacts Tourism is the dominant industry in Lincoln City and VRDs make up a significant part of it. As shown here, VRDs produce substantial income for individuals, businesses, and the government. Employment According to figures prepared for the Oregon Tourism Commission by Dean Runyan Associates, 1 in Lincoln County each $84,470 of visitor spending supports one job, and each $100 of visitor spending generates $27 in employee earnings. The jobs include those directly related to accommodations, plus food service, food stores, retail sales, transportation (including gasoline) and arts, entertainment, and recreation. The Runyan report defines jobs to include both full-time and part-time positions, and salaried and self-employed individuals. 2 In 2014, the most recent full year for which figures are available, Lincoln City lodging properties reported $62,331,623 in gross room rentals. Of this total, $15,415,417 (24.7%) came from VRDs; including $6,659,576 from Roads End and $8,755,841 from the rest of the city. Using these figures one can estimate that in 2014 visitor spending on VRD rentals in Lincoln City supported jobs paying each employee an average of $22,806 per year. As noted above the tourism-related jobs include both part-time and full-time positions. We have no information on how many of each type are supported by VRDs, although anecdotal information suggests most of them are less than full-time. According to the American Community Survey of the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2014 Lincoln City had 3,642 jobs held by persons 16 years old and over. Of these, 2,392 were full-time, year-round jobs and 1,250 were less than full-time. 3 The median earnings of all employees, full-time and part-time, was $20,968. The median earnings for workers with full-time, year-round jobs was $32,163 for males and $26,780 for females. Based on 1 Dean Runyan Associates, Oregon Travel Impacts p, April 2015 at p Hereafter cited as Runyan. 2 Runyan, at p American Community Survey, American Community Survey 5-Year estimates, Table DP03, Selected Economic Characteristics. 5

6 these figures, VRDs supported the equivalent of 5.0% of the jobs in Lincoln City, and the VRD-supported jobs on the average paid at a rate of about 108.8% of the city s median income for all employees, about 70.9% of the median earnings for male workers with full-time, year-round jobs, and about 85.2% of the median full-time earnings for females (Jobs in the leisure and hospitality sector commonly are among the lowest paying jobs, as are retail jobs. 4 ) For purposes of comparison, a minimum wage full-time job in Oregon pays $19,240. Additional Visitor Spending In addition to their direct expenditures for lodging, those who stay in VRDs also spend money on things such as food, entertainment, and incidentals. The Runyan report provides figures on average visitor expenditures for overnight visitors by accommodation type (Table 2). Travel Party Person Length of Day Trip Day Trip Party Size Stay (Nights) Hotel, Motel $335 $633 $137 $ Private Home $93 $283 $36 $ Other Overnight $129 $428 $39 $ All Overnight $238 $551 $87 $ Table 2: Average Expenditures for Overnight Visitors, Source: Dean Runyan Associates, Oregon Travel Impacts p, April Unfortunately, while Runyan breaks out Hotel/Motel and Private Home (which specifically does not include VRDs 5 ) it lumps vacation homes with campgrounds as Other Overnight. Thus it is not possible to use the Runyan figures to demonstrate directly the extent of additional visitor expenditures relating to VRDs. Nevertheless, the Runyan figures can be helpful in developing an estimate. They demonstrate that the average party size and the average length of stay are greater for Other Overnight than for hotels and motels and private homes. VRD-related expenditures on a per person or per party basis are likely to be lower than those for hotels and motels because those staying in VRDs typically cook many of their meals at 4 Erik Knoder, Low-Wage Jobs in Lincoln County, Oregon Employment Department. Accessed March 21, It says private homes are Unpaid overnight accommodations of friends and relatives. Runyan at

7 the VRD rather than eating at restaurants as is typical for hotel/motel guests. However they likely are more similar to hotels and motels than to campers. Assuming that the average cost per night for a VRD is about $210 6 and that the average travel party expenditures for VRD users is probably in the vicinity of $300 per day (i.e. a little more than 10% less than hotel/motel guests 7 ), then each party would spend an additional about $90 per day (which may end up being spent outside Lincoln City as well as inside). Transient Room Tax Vacation rental dwellings have a substantial effect on the city s transient room tax (TRT) revenues. This effect has grown as the number of VRDs has grown. In 2014, the most recent full year for which figures are available, Lincoln City lodging properties reported $62,331,623 in gross room rentals. On this total, $15,415,417 came from VRDs; including $6,659,576 from Roads End and $8,755,841 from the rest of the city. At a tax rate of 9.5% the amount of the TRT from VRDs was $1,464,464 (about 25 percent of the $5,921,504 total TRT for all rentals). Not all of the TRT collected goes to the city. Lodging properties also benefit from the TRT. They keep five percent of the TRT they collect to offset the costs of collecting and reporting their receipts and taxes. The rest they remit to the city. In 2014 the lodging properties kept $296,075 of the TRT they collected. In 2014 the amount of TRT received by the city (95% of the total collected by the lodging properties) was $5,625,429. The amount of TRT the city received from VRDs was $1,391,241. This figure represents 24.7 % of the city s total TRT receipts. According to the city s budget, the TRT amounts to 32% of the city s total revenue. 8 This means that the VRD share of the transient room tax amounts to 7.9% of the city s revenue. 6 This figure is based on an average high season nightly rate of $285 and an average off-season nightly rate of $135, and assumes that the greater number of off-season nights means that high season and off-season nights are equally weighted, allowing a simple averaging of the two rates. The nightly rates are estimates from one of Lincoln City s largest VRD management companies. 7 This essentially is a back of the envelope level estimate, and is based on a myriad of factors including the generally larger party size of VRD users compared to hotel/motel users and generally lower per-night rates for hotels and motels. 8 City of Lincoln City, Adopted Budget FY at p. 2(April 2015). 7

8 Income for VRD Owners VRDs generate income for their owners. Depending on the number of nights for which a VRD is rented, this income is higher than a long-term rental would generate. Even if the number of rental nights is low, either by choice or as a result of the market, the income VRD owners gather from rentals can help to offset their mortgage and maintenance costs. 9 The result is that persons whose income from other sources is inadequate to allow them to purchase, for example, a second home at the beach, are able to do so with the added VRD income. Property Value for VRD Owners As noted above the income from VRD rentals can be available for maintenance of the dwelling and yard. If used for this purpose this allows them to maintain the structure and appearance at a level that would be less likely without the additional income. This supports higher property values for VRDs as they are less likely to be allowed to become run down. To the extent that a VRD is capable of generating income for its owner it can command a higher price than if it did not generate income. Thus, on selling a VRD the owner is able to realize a higher price. Increased property values are offset to an extent by increased property taxes resulting from the higher property values. Property Value for Surrounding Property Owners VRD owners have an economic incentive to keep up the appearance of their properties. Good curb appeal helps to generate business for a VRD. At the same time, good appearance can have spillover effects benefiting neighboring properties. A wellmaintained VRD can have a positive effect on surrounding property values by bringing up the overall appearance of the neighborhood. 9 Jefferson-Jones, J. Can Short-term Rental Arrangements Increase Home Values? A Case for AirBnB and other Home Sharing Arrangements. Cornell Real Estate Review, 13 (1) at p. 12 (2015). 8

9 Adverse Impacts VRDs have some adverse impacts in the community, resulting from costs associated with VRDs being imposed on third parties without compensation. These typically are nuisances such as noise, traffic, and garbage, but there are other types of adverse impacts as well. Property Values for Surrounding Property Owners VRDs can have both positive and negative impacts on the value of surrounding properties. The principal complaints about VRDs (noise, parking, and trash) can create situations that render properties close to VRDs less desirable for full-time residents and second home owners compared to strictly residential uses. 10 This is especially true if the VRD is poorly managed in terms of screening of renters, enforcement of rules, or maintenance of the property. The VRDs nuisance effects can reduce the quality of life for those in close proximity to VRDs. 11 VRDs change the character of residential neighborhoods into commercial or semicommercial neighborhoods. Instead of having relatively long-term neighbors they come to know, residents of areas with VRDs are exposed to a constant turnover of strangers who have no connections or accountability to the communities in which they are renting. Quantifying the economic costs of the reduction in quality of life and the change of neighborhood character is difficult. To some limited extent property values may reflect some of the costs of living near a VRD. Nuisance type problems can decrease property values to such an extent that they drive potential purchasers and residents away as they try to avoid the externalities associated with VRDs. It also can result in homeowners close to a VRD becoming feeling compelled to sell and as a result becoming less than willing sellers as they decide to relocate to areas without VRDs. In some cases in Lincoln 10 Loudat, Thomas, and Kasturi, Prahlad, Economic Impact of Transient Vacation Rentals (TVRs) on Maui County (2008). 11 Economic & Planning Systems, Inc., The Impact of Vacation Rentals on Affordable and Workforce Housing in Sonoma County, Prepared for the Sonoma County Community Development Commission, at p. 8 (2015). 9

10 City, homeowners have sold their houses and moved away upon approval of one or more VRDs near their homes. Long-Term Rental Availability and Cost Because VRDs potentially generate more income for owners than long-term rentals do, owners have an incentive to remove their properties from the residential market and convert them to VRDs. This leads to a reduced supply of housing, leading to higher housing costs for long term renters as there is more competition for the remaining units. Owners of vacant land suitable for residential development, seeing the demand for VRDs, may build new VRDs on their property rather than homes for year-round sale or rent. This removes it from the supply of available residential land. In some cases these VRDs, designed specifically to be VRDs and not as long-term housing, cannot be converted for long-term occupancy. Typically they have smaller closets, smaller kitchens (generally without pantry space), smaller bedrooms, and other design features that render them less desirable for long term residency. These purpose-built VRDs remove land from the supply of buildable land for long-term residences and are difficult to return to the long-term housing stock. Thus both VRD conversions and purpose-built VRDs reduce the supply of long-term housing. And as a result, the cost of long-term housing, specifically rental housing, is increased. Resident Spending If a VRD is a dwelling that otherwise would be occupied by its owners or long-term renters, while the local economy receives host income and visitor spending from the VRD, it loses spending from the displaced permanent resident. 12 Resident spending per person per day generally is less than visitor spending per person per day; however the permanent resident is here every day, even during the off season for tourists. The resident owner invests for the long term in home improvements. The resident owners 12 See Office of Economic Analysis, City and County of San Francisco, Amending the Regulation of Short-Term Residential Rentals: Economic Impact Report, May 18, 2015, at 7. 10

11 and long-term renters purchase food, clothing, and other personal items here. They support the local hospital, car repair, veterinarians, cultural events, gas stations, hardware stores, restaurants, personal services, and a host of other vendors throughout the year. Costs of Administration and Enforcement The city incurs costs in administering the VRD permit program and in enforcing the VRD standards. The Planning & Community Development Department has one full-time position dedicated to the VRD program administration and enforcement, augmented by a portion of the time of the Planning & Community Development Department director and other staff. The total costs to the city are about $125,000. Offsetting these costs are the revenues from VRD licenses, which run about $72,000 per year. State law prohibits the city from including the costs of enforcement in license fees, yet enforcement of VRD standards has a cost to the city and its taxpayers. Enforcement is in response to violations noted by city staff and from complaints by individuals. In the six years from 2010 through 2015 Planning & Community Development Department staff logged almost 1,000 violations for an average of about 166 violations per year. See the table below. The vast majority of violations (72.9%) were parking related, followed by Table 3: Number of VRD-related complaints received by the Planning & Community Development Department by type of violation and year. 11

12 trash (16.0%) and noise (4.7%). The Police Department also receives VRD related complaints, typically involving noise. In 2015 the Police Department logged a total of 144 complaints regarding noise at residential sites. Of these, 34 (about 24%) were at VRDs. Given that there are 467 VRDs in the city and that according to the American Community Survey there were 5,581 dwelling units in the city, VRDs account for about 8.4% of all dwelling units but are the sources of 24% of the noise complaints. The city encourages those who have complaints about a VRD to contact the VRD s local representative. The city has no information on the number of complaints regarding VRD violations that local representatives and management companies received and responded to. The city issued a total of 10 citations in 2014, all of them for operating a VRD without the required city approvals. Of the ten, one was acquitted, one was dismissed, and eight either pled guilty or were found guilty. Fines for the ten citations could have been $13,200 but the court imposed reduced fines totaling only $2,425 and assessed enforcement fees totaling $1,645. In 2015 the city again issued 10 citations relating to VRDs. This year the offenses were quite varied, and included the following: Three parking violations; Three using spaces as bedrooms that did not meet safety standards; Two failures to comply with TRT requirements (one of which also was unlicensed); One exceeding occupancy limits violation; and One failure to provide an action plan for correction of violations. Again there was one acquittal and one dismissal. Three of the citations remain before the municipal court. For the others the court imposed fines totaling $2,000 and enforcement fees totaling $100. Adverse Impacts on Other Lodging Types To an unknown extent, VRDs take business away from lodging types, which are restricted to commercial zones. This is not to say that all or even a major part of those 12

13 who stay in Lincoln City s VRDs would stay in the city s hotels and motels if VRDs were not available here because the city s different lodging types tend to appeal to different customers. Nevertheless VRDs do take some business, perhaps only a small amount, away from other lodging types. 13

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