WENATCHEE — The Chelan County Commission placed a moratorium on new vacation rentals or changes to existing ones Tuesday and sent regulations back to the Planning Commission for the third time.
Commissioners were concerned that people would buy homes and turn them into vacation rentals or expand existing ones before new regulations went into effect, Commissioner Doug England said. The county planned to finish its regulations next month, but the process has been delayed by a lawsuit filed by an organization opposed to new regulations.
“One of those organizations appears to be using a lawsuit to delay the implementation of regulations to allow more people to build short-term rentals, which then they feel will be grandfathered in,” England said.
The lawsuit, filed by the Short Term Rental Alliance of Chelan County, also alleged that the Planning Commission shouldn’t have been in session during the pandemic, based on emergency proclamations by Gov. Jay Inslee.
County commissioners feel it is time to finalize regulations on vacation rentals, England said. So, they are having the Planning Commission redo the public hearing and issue a decision.
“And so just to be safe, all that kind of stuff, we’re just going to do it over again and then decide what path forward we’re going to take,” England siad.
In the meantime, the county has placed a moratorium on the “designation, permitting, construction, development, expansion, remodeling, creation, locating, and siting of short-term rental uses, structures, residences,” according to the county website.
The moratorium will last for six months, and the County Commission will need to justify it before the Planning Commission on Oct. 6, England said. After six months the county can choose to renew the moratorium.