WENATCHEE — The Chelan County Commission is looking at the week of Jan. 18 to start its short-term rental task force.

The commission and Community Development Director Jim Brown discussed where they are in the process of making a task force to look at short-term rental regulations during a public meeting on Tuesday. They also talked about extending the moratorium on short-term rentals.

The commission has not yet picked members for the task force, Chelan County Commissioner Bob Bugert said. It is still generating a list of potential candidates with recommendations from each commissioner, the two interested organizations and a few self nominations.

The two short-term rental organizations are:

  • The Short Term Rental Alliance of Chelan County: opposed to new regulations
  • Residents United for Neighbors: supports some regulations

They are working off of a list of at least 35 people at this point, Brown said during the meeting. They hope to have a decision by the end of the week.

“I’m hoping that we don’t have folks who will dig in their heels and aren’t open-minded and listen to the other folks’ perspective,” Brown said.

The county is also talking to potential facilitators, who can help manage the task force’s discussions, Bugert said. The county has already received some recommendations for how the task force should be run, such as:

  • Have alternates who can replace task force members if members need to step down

Give the facilitator the ability to remove task force members who aren’t operating in good faith

The facilitator should be an objective third-party person with no connection to either side of the short-term rental issue, Brown said.

The Chelan County commissioners will also discuss what specific issues the task force will be looking at, Bugert said. Some of the things the commissioners are considering for the task force’s deliberations are:

  • How to implement a percentage cap on the number of short-term rentals by zip code?
  • Should existing short-term rentals be allowed to remain?
  • If they are not allowed, how long of a grace period should the county give rental owners before they have to stop operating?

The commission does not need to follow any of the decisions made by the task force which will be expected to produce recommendations within three months.

Moratorium

The county will also need to extend a moratorium on new or expanded short-term rentals, Brown said during the meeting.

The commission plans on having a Jan. 12 public hearing on the moratorium, Brown said. A vote on whether to extend the moratorium would come later. The current moratorium expires Feb. 23.

Public comments will be accepted from Friday to Jan. 15 on the county’s website.

The moratorium extension leaves about 45 short-term rentals in the Manson Urban Growth Area (UGA) in limbo. Those rental owners needed to renew their permits at the beginning of this year, Brown said. The county sent letters to those short-term rental owners telling them they do not need to renew their permits and that the county will take no action against them.

If the moratorium extension goes through it will have language clarifying the situation for those short-term rental owners, he said.

The Manson UGA is the only area in the county where short-term rental owners need permits to operate.

Tony Buhr: 664-7123

buhr@wenatcheeworld.com or

on Twitter @TonyBuhr