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Officials concerned about housing shortage on Oregon coast

ASTORIA, Ore. (AP) — Astoria officials are considering placing limits on temporary lodging like Airbnb rentals to free up units for permanent residents of the coastal Oregon city.

The housing shortage came up during a Tuesday city council meeting even though it wasn’t on the agenda, reported The Daily Astorian (http://bit.ly/2mceyjz ). City policy should favor locals over tourists, according to councilors Cindy Price and Zetty Nemlowill. They have expressed interest in limiting future rentals in residential zones to people who plan to stay 30 days or longer.

Price and Nemlowill are also concerned that Airbnb-style lodging could be undercutting Astoria’s bed-and-breakfasts. Grandview Bed & Breakfast owner Loretta Maxwell bolstered that argument when she said Tuesday that her reservations have dwindled as temporary room rentals have taken off over the past three years.

But Airbnb host Dwight Caswell dismissed Price and Nemlowill’s concerns. He said his low-price room doesn’t compete with the town’s bed-and-breakfasts because it attracts people who can’t afford traditional lodging.

“I’m competing with campgrounds,” argued Caswell.

He also said Airbnb rentals like his don’t affect permanent housing options because property owners are often unable or unwilling to rent the space on a monthly basis.

“We would never consider renting that for long-term housing. We rent it when it’s convenient for us to do that because, otherwise — on those rare occasions when I snore — my wife wouldn’t have any place to go to,” Caswell said.

Price said the housing shortage shouldn’t mean pitting groups against each other and argued that more data should be gathered on temporary rentals before the city council begins crafting a policy.

Councilor Bruce Jones said he agrees that the city needs more housing options for permanent residents but doesn’t think short-term home rentals are the problem.

Banning such rents, said Jones, would be like “like taking a chain saw to a problem that we might be able to address with pruning saws.”

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Information from: The Daily Astorian, http://www.dailyastorian.com

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