Deb Lewis of Gold Beach has an idea she believes could help — in a little way — ease a housing shortage, by allowing RVs that meet certain criteria to park on private property for a limited period of time.
She presented the idea to the Gold Beach City Council Monday night; they plan to discuss it at their next workshop.
Lewis has a spot on her property that has access to sewer, water and electricity, and believes if she and others in the same situation could rent it, it could benefit all involved — herself, the renters and the city.
The city allows people to convert their garages to apartments and put park models on land zoned for such use, Lewis noted. So, she proposed the city council consider changing the code to allow the RVs.
“It can’t be people just willy-nilly putting an RV in front of their house and renting it,” Lewis said. “There’d be a permit, and it wouldn’t be three, four days at a time, but people staying three months at a time.”
Lewis noted traveling nurses and physicians struggle to find a place to live for the nine-month stint they usually work at Curry General Hospital. In the past, many have had to live three or four to a tiny house until they could — if they could — find housing.
“I know of a traveling nurse in an RV park, and it’s full,” she said of a hospital employee with a short lease. “If someone cancels, she can stay. If no one does, she has to leave, and her contract is not up at the hospital. She has nowhere to go.”
Councilor Tami Kaufman suggested other criteria, as well, including the age of an RV, its size and other elements to prevent transforming a neighborhood into a mobile home park.
City Administrator Jodi Fritts noted the building code doesn’t acknowledge RVs as buildings, as they are considered temporary housing.
“Maybe do micro RV parks, whereby someone could apply for a one-space permit that meets the state guidelines; that could work,” she mused. “We really do have a hideous housing shortage. We need to think outside the box. Maybe it’s another option to get additional units.”
The council asked Beth Barker-Hidalgo to express her thoughts; the housing and homeless advocate said the idea could prove viable, although not for the HUD housing clients with whom she most often deals.
Councilor Becky Campbell noted medical professionals aren’t the only ones who can’t find housing. She knows of a man who just landed a job with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife who cannot find housing and a new Coos-Curry Electric Cooperative employee who is living in a camp trailer.
Housing is so tight, McVey pointed out, that when her husband was talking with another person in line at the grocery store and mentioned something going on at their house, a man behind him in line blurted out, “You have a house? I’ll rent it.”
“That’s how fast they’re going,” McVey said. “They’ll rent without you even cleaning them.”
Numerous details would have to be worked out, the council agreed, including the length of stay — particularly to accommodate traveling medical personnel — permitting, if the city could get around the state listing RVs as temporary housing units and other issues.
“Because doctors and nurses seem to be the main problem, make it nine months with a three-month extension for certain reasons,” suggested Councilor Melinda McVey. “That way, you’re covered, we’re covered and they’re covered.”