WENATCHEE — It was a busy Tuesday involving short-term rentals for the Chelan County Commission.
The commission held a nearly two-hour public hearing on extending the moratorium on short-term rentals. Commissioners also discussed setting up the task force to look at creating new short-term rental regulations.
The commission did not make a decision Tuesday on whether it would extend the moratorium. All of the commissioners said they need time to consider the dozens of people who spoke and 66 pages of written comments.
The commissioners are expected to make a decision at 10:15 a.m. Feb. 2.
People who spoke during the public hearing raised concerns about the need to do basic maintenance on their property; the moratorium also bans remodeling and expansions. Some short-term rental owners in the Manson area said they chose not to pay for a permit in 2020 because of COVID-19, but didn’t realize it would preclude them from getting one in 2021.
“I want to build a fence for the benefit of my full-time neighbors and I can’t,” said Sean Reid of Manson. “I want to place my hot tub in a different location, again for the benefit of my neighbors, and I can’t.”
Other residents spoke out for the moratorium and said it is necessary until permanent regulations are in place. Neighbors continue to experience conflict with short-term renters and the moratorium itself is a compromise until regulations are in place, some at the public hearing said.
“The property rights of residential neighborhoods are not less than somebody making a bunch of money that doesn’t even live here,” said Steve Stroud of Leavenworth.
After the moratorium public hearing, commissioners started work on finalizing the short-term rental task force. The commission did not reach a conclusion, though, and continued its discussions to 11:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Commissioner Bob Bugert presented a list of names of people to represent both the interests of the short-term rental community and residents concerned about short-term rentals.The list includes:
- Sean Lynn, short-term rental manager
- Don MacKenzie, short-term rental owner
- David Donovick, short-term rental owner
- Kirvil Skinnerland, president of Residents United for Neighbors (RUN)
- John Agnew, nominated by RUN
- Ken Longley, regulation supporter
The two alternates who participate in the process, but don’t vote are:
- Zelda Holgate, short-term rental manager
- Jerry Jennings, RUN steering committee member
The names are not finalized; commissioners said they are concerned that all three people representing neighborhood rights are from the Leavenworth area. They would like one person from the Manson area.
The biggest change to the task force was the consideration of two to three planning commission members to participate in the discussions instead of just one, Bugert said. The planning commission members would be non-voting participants.
Bugert said it would allow the task force to break out into three-person discussion groups.
Commissioner Tiffany Gering raised concerns that the three planning commissioners recommended — Vicki Malloy, Carl Blum and Ed Martinez — each seem to heavily favor short-term rental regulations.
“It’s not because, ‘Oh, they’re on the neighborhood side, I don’t want them,’” Gering said. “I just want it to be fair, and I want the public to think it is fair as well.”
To resolve the issue, Overbay said he would waive his planning commission representative as his district, which includes Malaga, does not have many short-term rentals.
Gering said she would be interested in nominating Jordan McDevitt or Ryan Kelso.
The Chelan County Commission also plans to hire Nash Consulting to facilitate the task-force discussions. It should take the task force 90 days to reach a decision on short-term rental regulations, the commissioners agreed.