Pacific City motels sue county over coronavirus shutdowns

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Two motel owners in Pacific City are suing Tillamook County, saying coronavirus restrictions that stopped their businesses from fully operating in the last two months violate their constitutional rights.

The motels contend the county’s March 22 resolution halting most overnight lodging violates Fifth Amendment protections against the “taking of property without just compensation,’’ as well as their due process rights, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

The county lacked authority to issue the restrictions and adopted them in an “illogical and irrational” manner, the lawsuit says.

The resolution called for closing all transient lodging — hotels, motels, bed-and-breakfasts and short-term rentals including condos — “to all visitors who are not providing essential services or are here for commercial reasons such as construction, trucking, etc.’’

The County Board of Commissioners found that COVID-19 represents “an unprecedented threat to public health the likes of which has not been seen in the past 100 years’’ and that the severity of the threat to life, health and safety called for “extreme measures and immediate action.’’

The plaintiffs, owners of the Anchorage Motel and The Pacific City Inn, say they’ve lost tens of thousands of dollars as a result of the county order.

The suit was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Portland.

Tillamook County counsel William K. Sargent didn’t respond immediately to a message seeking comment.

On May 5, the Tillamook board adopted a new resolution, extending its emergency order through May 31. The resolution does allow for private “transient lodging’’ facilities in unincorporated Tillamook County to reopen starting at noon on May 29, but says all publicly owned transient lodging will remain closed.

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