Deschutes County (Oregon) commissioners are set to review a comprehensive study on potential campground and RV park sites, while also considering the implementation of a business license for short-term rentals. This dual focus underscores the county’s commitment to enhancing its outdoor recreation and hospitality sectors.
The county’s engagement with ECONorthwest, a consulting firm, for a preliminary analysis of three potential sites earmarks a strategic approach to expanding its outdoor recreational facilities. The study, costing around $100,000, scrutinizes sites at Fort Thompson Lane, Drafter Road in La Pine, and Crooked River Ranch for their viability as private or public RV parks and recreational campgrounds.
The Drafter Road site, within La Pine’s city limits, emerges as a frontrunner in the report. Its direct highway access, appropriate zoning, and existing infrastructure make it an attractive location for an RV park. However, the report also flags potential land-use challenges, necessitating exceptions to state goals. The projected development cost for a 63-site campground/RV park here is approximately $3.7 million, with an anticipated return on investment between 9.9 and 11 percent.
Conversely, the Fort Thompson Lane site, despite its ample space, confronts similar land-use challenges and is divided by a canal. The estimated development cost for a 300-site RV park at this location is a substantial $21.6 million. The Crooked River Ranch site is noted for its unique challenges, such as rugged terrain and lack of essential infrastructure, alongside camping-prohibitive zoning regulations.
ECONorthwest’s report offers several funding avenues for these projects, including room tax revenues and grants. It also suggests operational models, ranging from county-led management to public-private partnerships, a strategy that has seen success in other regions.
Simultaneously, the commissioners are deliberating on a business license for short-term rentals in the unincorporated county. This consideration follows the county’s existing practice of collecting transient room taxes from short-term rentals outside city jurisdictions. As of the previous month, the county had about 3,200 short-term rental accounts, with a significant portion within destination resorts.
The proposed business license for short-term rentals could encompass various components, such as wastewater system reviews, fire life safety standards, and the availability of a 24/7 property manager. The license fee structure aims to recover the costs incurred by the county in reviewing and issuing these licenses.
This dual focus of the commissioners – on developing campground/RV park sites and regulating short-term rentals – reflects a broader strategy to bolster the county’s outdoor hospitality sector. The development of new campgrounds and RV parks could significantly enhance the region’s appeal to outdoor enthusiasts, providing additional options for accommodation and recreation.
Moreover, the regulation of short-term rentals through a business license could streamline the sector, ensuring compliance with safety standards and zoning regulations. This move could also potentially balance the interests of local residents with those of tourists and outdoor recreation businesses.
As Deschutes County navigates these developments, the outcomes could set a precedent for other counties looking to optimize their outdoor hospitality offerings. The decisions made here could influence the broader campground and outdoor recreation industry, offering insights into sustainable development and regulation in this sector.
The county’s approach, balancing development with regulation, could serve as a model for other regions. It underscores the importance of strategic planning in expanding outdoor recreational facilities while maintaining community standards and environmental integrity.
The upcoming county commission meeting, where these issues will be discussed in detail, is poised to be a pivotal moment for Deschutes County’s outdoor hospitality and recreation industry. The decisions made could have lasting impacts on the region’s landscape, economy, and the overall experience of outdoor enthusiasts.