SEAVIEW — County officials seem close to agreement on a new ordinance that may quiet the controversy on Seaview vacation rentals. Last week’s public hearing, as a follow-up to an earlier three-hour workshop, resulted in the planning commission unanimously passing a new draft ordinance which will be passed on to Pacific County Commissioners for a vote sometime in March.

The new Ordinance 153F cites “traffic, parking, congestion, litter, trespass, noise, and other assorted nuisance activities” associated with the status quo vacation rental policy in Seaview. The amendments “eliminate new transient lodging/vacation rental and B&B facilities from the Restricted Residential (R-1) land use district within the Seaview Urban Growth Area and will ensure the residential character of the Seaview area remains intact.” They will also put into place new procedures for an annual vacation rental permitting process.


Public hearing results

The public hearing focused closely on the wording of a proposed draft ordinance and seemed to satisfy most of the 40 participants in the county conference room. The discussion had mainly to do with the change from a conditional to a special use permit. The advantage of a special use permit is that it has the possibility for an appeal and review.

There was also conversation about how the restrictions for the new annual permit should be structured. A few in the audience felt that mandating the use of a professional management agency for a rental property should be required while others felt that this was too restrictive. 

There was also lengthy conversation about whether or not commercial rental insurance should be required. One of the items that there seemed no controversy about was the need for a land-line telephone in any vacation rental, so that tenants could be called directly if or when a problem arose. A permitted vacation rental must also have a local point of contact on record. 

Conversation about the maximum number of renters — now 12 — in any given rental was also discussed. Curt Stephens came to the meeting well-prepared with a listing of many Seaview vacation rentals that are advertising on the Internet with capacity clearly over the maximum allowed. Among others, these include Admiral House (capacity 14); Bloomer Mansion (14); Hewitt House (14); and Lions Paw (16) — some of which may have a permitted variance.


Will the problem move elsewhere?

Although this current ordinance does not directly address R-1 zoned property anywhere else on the Peninsula besides Seaview, there was some speculation that tightening the restriction there might simply mean that the vacation rental problems would migrate to other areas like Klipsan, Ocean Park or Nahcotta. The approach seemed to be to wait and see how this new ordinance performs rather than trying to address potential complaints in other areas.

Planning commissioner Jim Sayce made the point that these new permitting restrictions were all part of doing business and that owning and renting out a property should be considered a “privilege.”


Next steps

Nansen Malin, Seaview resident, thanked the planning staff and commissioners for their hard work on this issue and recommended that the amendments to the ordinance be approved.

“This proposal is fair and equitable and shows that you are listening to the citizens,” she said. “I hope that you will adopt it and move it forward.”

To read the details of the new ordinance amendments, contact Mike DeSimone in the community development office at either 642-9382 (Long Beach) or 875-9356 (South Bend) to request a copy.

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