news-108280333-ar-0-0.jpg
Derek Davis is trying to save his Wimer ranch after county officials said he can no longer use it as a vacation rental. Mail Tribune Photo / Jamie Lusch - Jamie Lusch

State rental property decision could close the door on owners

WIMER — The Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals recently ruled that the 15-acre Life is Good Ranch can no longer be used as a vacation retreat, potentially threatening other Jackson County rural property owners who offer short-term rentals.

Derek Davis, the owner of the property, said he was disappointed in the ruling and is not sure what his next step will be.

"We will figure it out," he said.

On Feb. 24, Donald Rubenstein, Jackson County hearings officer, fined Davis $600 after ruling the ranch can't be used for commercial activities because it is zoned woodland resource.

The property has hosted weddings, as well as large weekend and holiday gatherings. A neighbor complained to the county about amplified music and screaming associated with the use of a zip-line that allows someone wearing a special harness to "zip" through a forest suspended by a cable.

Davis rented the rural property out for $300 to $900 a night, offering a pond, pool, a nine-hole chipping and putting green, as well as a 1,400-square-foot game room complete with bar, pool table, karaoke machine and 70-inch television.

The types of uses allowed under county code are limited for a property with woodland resource zoning. Short-term occupancy of residences isn't allowed.

When Davis' problems first surfaced, there were 465 properties that advertised vacation rentals throughout the county.

Davis appealed the hearing officer's decision to LUBA, which then ruled in favor of the hearing officer's interpretation.

Davis said he still rents the property out for a month at a time, which he says is allowed under the code because it is not considered short term.

He said he attempted to have a house sitter at the property recently while he was on vacation, but he said that wasn't a permissible use either. Davis said he faces a Sept. 20 hearing on that issue with the county.

Davis hopes to eventually work out a solution with county officials, which could include a change to the land development ordinance to allow short-term rentals on resource property.

Davis and his wife rent a house in Medford.

Reach Damian Mann at 541-776-4476, or email dmann@mailtribune.com.

Share This Story