Short-term rental draft code tweaks continue | Decision possible at July 27 meeting | Local News

WENATCHEE — Toddlers now count as short-term rental occupants and a kitchen remodel will not violate permit status in the latest changes to Chelan County’s proposed short-term rental regulations.

County commissioners are working their way through 1,000 pages of comments and the verbal testimony of about 60 people received in June about the draft document they hope to approve by the end of July. 

More than 200 people attended the last Zoom call public hearing on June 29 to watch the proceedings or make a public comment.

About 70 citizens attended Tuesday’s online deliberation day, interested in seeing what changes would be made to the code and a possible conclusion to the process.

The code was not adopted on Tuesday, but the commissioners scheduled the next date for deliberation for July 27.

No further deliberation or public hearings have been scheduled past July 27 as of Thursday, but there is no guarantee that commissioners will adopt the code.

One of the changes made Tuesday was a recommendation from the task force’s February report that didn’t make it into the draft when it was written up by staff.

The percentage limit on short-term rentals in the Manson urban growth area increased from 6% to 9%. 

The short-term rental task force, made up of representatives from different sides of the discussion, had proposed this percentage cap back in their recommendations.

The latest draft of the code now allows owners to remodel a kitchen or make other changes as long as they do not increase non-conformance like adding another bedroom to their rental.

Before, any change to the property that might require a permit was not allowed until after ceasing rental operations and surrendering their short-term rental permits.

Commissioners also agreed to count everyone, including children, toward the overnight and daytime occupancy. Before, children under 2 years old were excluded.

One concern during the last public hearing on June 29 was about the possibility for planned unit developments to skirt around the percentage caps based on the previous language of the code.

Commissioners and Community Development Director Jim Brown have changed some of the language to address this issue.

Development on code concerning short-term vacation rentals has been an ongoing since 2020. 

The goal is to address the concerns of permanent residents who live next to homes rented out for 30 days or less while balancing the interests of short-term rental homeowners.

In January 2020, Chelan County had about 1,247 Tier 2 and Tier 3 short-term rentals, with the greatest number located in Leavenworth, according to data from the Chelan County Assessor and AirDNA.

Short-term rentals are separated into three tiers. Tiers 2 and 3 are non-owner occupied rentals with occupancies between eight and 16.