BEND, OR -- As Bend's Vacation Rental Task Force meets Thursday, another question now facing city officials is whether legal issues could arise from changes to the city code. Already, vacation rental conversations have focused on neighborhood density and safety, and effects on tourism. But now a potential question is whether or not the city could be sued.
KBND News asked Assistant City Manager Jon Skidmore about state regulations limiting vacation rental density. He said, "Our job as staff is to identify those 'no-fly zones.' There have been a few suggestions that could conceivably violate things like the Fair Housing Act. So, there are some regulatory approaches we as staff need to make sure [the task force] is aware of. They can choose to heed our advice or not." One of those ideas mentioned by the task force -- limiting the age of those who can rent -- has already been thrown out as a violation of the Fair Housing Act.
Skidmore says, regardless of the recommendations the task force brings to councilors, the city could face lawsuits. "At the end of the day, land use processes in Bend tend to be legally charged," Skidmore said. "We are sued routinely on land use matters. Our hope is that we create a set of regulations that are reasonable and balanced, but there's always the potential that someone on one or the other side of the debate who's unhappy with the outcome could try to challenge it."
In previous legal cases, Oregon judges have ruled against regulations limiting the number of vacation rentals in a city. The Vacation Rental Task Force meets tonight at 4:00 p.m. The task force is scheduled to deliver recommendations to the council by March.