By BROOKE SNAVELY
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY
Rental property owners and resort community leaders are reacting Thursday after Deschutes County commissioners issued a ban on all short-term vacation stays in homes, inns, bed & breakfasts, hotels and resorts.
As of now, operators of temporary lodging facilities are not allowed to book any new reservations for tourist accommodations of less than 30 days.
“I think really what the county commissioners were trying to do with this order was to affect all of the private homeowners that are still, understandably, trying to scrape by and pay for their mortgages that already rented on their own,” said Robert Bennington, owner of Bennington Properties in Sunriver. “Essentially, this order is even the private homeowners understand that they need to shut down.”
The decision only impacts rural, unincorporated parts of the county including resorts at Sunriver, Tetherow, Pronghorn and Black Butte Ranch. It does not include the city limits of Bend, Redmond or Sisters.
Some full-time resort area residents applauded the decision, saying it was long overdue.
In an email to Central Oregon Daily News, Eagle Crest resident Linda Ficere wrote “those renting condos and homes appear to be here solely for recreational pleasure or to escape Portland and other areas where the potential exposure to COVID-19 is higher because of greater population density.”
Luann Johnson, another Eagle Crest resident wrote she was upset to see “a vehicle with Washington plates parked in front of a timeshare unloading a horse trailer that was full” of personal effects.
Johnson wrote the visiting “individuals will be frequenting our stores and, contagious or not, will be consuming supplies which we need.”
Deschutes County’s prohibition on short term rentals does not apply to county residents who are self-quarantining themselves to protect their family or roommates; patients and families of patients receiving medical care at local facilities, nor essential workers such as doctors, members of the military, truck drivers and utility workers.
“Does it hurt? Yea,” said James Lewis, GM of the Sunriver Owners Association. “It changes the course of events in Sunriver but ultimately, the hope is that by abiding by all these directives the length of time that we all have to live with this is shortened and life can get back to normal as soon as possible.”
Bennington says all the professional rental management companies in Sunriver, including Sunriver Resort, shut down prior to the county’s ban on short-term vacation rentals. The resort plans to re-open on May 15th, the same day the county’s visitation ban is lifted.
Last week the City of Bend issued an order strongly discouraging vacation travel to and tourism stays in Bend. Today, Mayor Sally Russell said the City continues to monitor the situation and could take additional actions if necessary.
The cities of Redmond and Sisters are considering enacting similar restrictions on short-term vacation rentals.