Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Pateros votes “No” on Airbnb nightly rentals

Council and planning agency will reconsider

Posted

PATEROS – Nearly two dozen residents turned out to voice support or opposition of nightly rentals at a public hearing held at the regular monthly meeting of the Pateros City Council on July 17.

The hearing resulted from an earlier amendment request by R1-zoned property owners Katie and Paul Servino who have restored their single-family home at 123 Chris Street and want to offer it as an Airbnb nightly rental. The Pateros Municipal Code (PMC) as currently written does not permit that use for R1-zoned single-family residences. The Servino’s request for a special waiver could not be granted without allowing every other R1 property the same opportunity. That prompted the city council to instruct the city planning agency comprised of council members Mike Harding, Holly Bange, and city planner Kurt Danison to revisit the code and submit its recommendation at the public hearing.

Danison explained the hearing’s background details, reviewed the city’s zoning standards, and read statements in support of and opposed to nightly rentals.

Danison further said the planning agency recommends that the city deny the Servino’s amendment request and instruct the committee to prepare a proposal to amend the zoning code to  prohibit nightly rentals in the R2 and R3 zoned districts.

As expected, response was divided between those supporting nightly rentals and those opposing them.

 Steve Hough, who has a nightly rental next door to his Warren Avenue residence, said he supports them.

“For the last two or three years everybody who have stayed at that Airbnb have been absolutely wonderful people,” said Hough. “They’re respectful of the neighborhood and we’ve never had any problems with any of them.”

Angela Van Eysinga suggested that if the council amends the zoning code to allow nightly rentals it should add a provision prohibiting them in any new homes built in the R1 zone.

Gurmail Gill of Gill Brothers Real Estate asked if Airbnb’s are required to pay hotel/motel taxes and was advised that they pay the same tax as the city’s commercial lodging businesses. Gill favors nightly rentals.

Attorney Alex Tomason reminded the council that the city has had a stable population of 600 residents for the past 40 years and has only six short-term rentals within the city limits that comprise two percent of the total housing.

“If you think restricting short-term rentals…will somehow make housing available for people, it won’t,” said Tomason.

Tomason supported his claim by citing his experience as an estate lawyer handling property succession issues.

“Look at the homes. Look who owns them. What do they do with them?” said Tomason. “They give them to their kids; their kids then sell them to someone on the west side.”

Tomason said nightly rentals will bring more revenue, people, and interest to the town and help revitalize the whole area.

Lira Sloss, mother of Katie Servino, made several points:

            • Airbnb users bring revenue to city businesses.

            • Local builders and workers benefit from the renovation work.

            • Renovated homes for Airbnb clients improve the appearance of the town.

            • Because they attract a different clientele Airbnb’s do not take business away from hotels and motels.

            • Non-waterfront homes should have the same rental opportunities as waterfront homes.

Mary Haas, a 23-year resident said that while she does not oppose nightly rentals, she has an issue with town visitors who do not think the local ordinances apply to them.

“They race their dirt bikes or little quads up and down the street, their snowmobiles in the wintertime,” said Haas. “They don’t wear their helmets; they don’t obey the laws.”

Haas pointed out that over the July 4th holiday fireworks were being fired off near the tennis courts despite regular patrols by the fire department.

“But that didn’t stop them, and it didn’t stop the noise,” Haas said.

Riverside Drive resident Jim Beardon agreed with Haas and cited his own sightings of disregard of local laws. He cautioned the city against creating more of a problem for law enforcement that is already spread thin in the county and creating an Airbnb problem comparable to the City of Chelan.

“When you want to think about generating revenue, you’re going down a real slippery road,” Beardon said.

Danison said other cities around the area are trying to strike the right balance for Airbnb use. He added that while there are valid arguments from both sides, the council has three choices:

  1. Accept the planning agency’s recommendation and finding of fact.
  2. Modify the planning agency’s recommendation as the council chooses.
  3. Send it back to the planning agency to consider suggested options.

Pateros council member Frank Herbert reminded the meeting that increasing prices of homes in Pateros compel most people who move to Pateros to rent rather than purchase a house.

“How many houses are for sale in Pateros on Zillo right now?” asked Roberts.

Answering his own question Roberts said there are only two currently on the market “and the cheapest one is $500,000, so most people need to rent.”

Charlene Knoop said her research shows eight nightly rentals in the city rather than six. With approximately 200 homes in Pateros that is close to a five percent cap which she supports.

Tomason suggested that the city can craft a plan that facilitates local growth without ruining neighborhoods. He cited three points:

  1. Ordinance violations are an enforcement issue and bringing in more revenue to the city is one route to affording more law enforcement to deal with that.
  2. Chelan County has a five percent cap on nightly rentals.
  3. Other counties have a three-citation rule for nightly rentals wherein licenses can be revoked.

Following the planning agency’s recommendation, the council voted unanimously to deny the requested zoning code amendments that would change nightly rentals from a prohibited to an allowed use and requested that the planning agency prepare a proposal to amend the zoning code to prohibit nightly rentals in the R2 and R3 zoning districts. The proposed amendments should include provisions for grandfathering the permitted existing nightly rentals in R2 and R3 zones.

Herbert recommended that the council and planning agency take time to re-evaluate the R1 request even if it stays the same as the motion states.

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