Entire-house STRs are only one of many elements contributing to our citys housing shortage, and are not the primary concern of Springfield/Eugene MicroDwellers. But by a very conservative estimate, they have already removed more than 1,600 bedrooms from the local housing inventory. (A high estimate is 7,000.) Unlike many other housing advocates in Eugene, I dont think that is trivial.
At this point there are no others in Eugene educating the public on the need for regulation, and no groups working on the issue other than the Springfield Eugene Tenant Association and an ad hoc group of affected neighbors. So I am going to devote some space to it for at least the next few months.
I suspect this is also a representative example of how Eugene would deal with any new housing issue and has dealt with them in the past, and as such will help reveal (for my future book?) why this City is the worst in the nation at housing its people.
Interestingly, ordinary citizens seem much more concerned about entire-house STRs (which they also call party houses or neighborhood motels) than housing advocates and policy wonks do. People have brought up the issue spontaneously in numerous meetings and other gatherings I have attended.
With the notable exception of Ward 8 candidate Ryan Moore and Councilor Betty Taylor (the NIMBYest of the NIMBY Councilors; in this case concerned about neighborhood disruption, not about preserving rental housing stock), so far Councilors, Council candidates, and far too many local housing advocates:
- Say it is trivial, not a problem, or not happening here.
- Seem unaware that cities across America face the same problem.
- When made aware that other cities have had the same problem and have crafted a response, say that Eugene is unique, so there isnt a problem here, and one wont develop.
- Do not reach out to, or know, UO experts (in this case, Dr. Rebecca Lewis, whose student won a statewide award in 2017 for her study of Airbnb in 237 small Oregon cities — indicating this was already a recognized issue for study three years ago!) — or search for other studies/knowledgeable articles on the problem.
- Do not reach out to other affected cities, especially those with comprehensive and well-developed responses like Los Angeles, to learn from their experience and perhaps emulate their policies. (I know that City staff did do this, in drafting its very responsible ordinance. But everyone else seems blissfully unaware.)
The above probably applies to every housing issue here — which is why this blog has veered from its original intent, to be a chronicle of my personal experience living in microhousing, toward being more broadly a tool for increasing public awareness of microdwelling options and housing policy concerning them. So be it!