Vacation rental dwelling workshop

Members of the Planning Commission and City Council meeting Monday, Sept. 30, at City Hall.

Vacation rental license fees could go up 500% or more in January.

The annual fees vary from $75 to $150, depending on a rental property’s occupancy. The fee could jump to $500 to pay for a new code enforcement officer who would conduct inspections and enforcement.

The City Council and Planning Commission convened a workshop Monday to develop new guidelines to help promote affordable long-term rentals and workforce housing and reduce complaints relating to noise, litter and parking.

“Some of these concerns that have been brought up are the livability of the areas where there are” vacation rentals, David Posalski, the vice chairman of the Planning Commission, said. “That’s really what these ideas are trying to address.”

Raising the annual license fee found unanimous support.

“It’s not going to do any good to change the ordinances if we don’t have this person in place,” City Councilor Dana Phillips said of a code enforcement officer.

Inspection fees, currently at $84, could also be hiked or incorporated into the overall cost of the annual license.

At the workshop, Planning Director Kevin Cupples laid out options designed to increase the stock of workforce housing and cut down on quality-of-life complaints.

While vacation rentals are not supported east of Neawanna Street, North and South Holladay Drive and South Roosevelt, areas west of U.S. Highway 101 could see further limits on density, including a neighborhood cap.

For example, if the limit was 40%, four properties within a zone could receive conditional use permits as vacation rentals, Posalski said.

In calculating boundaries, officials could measure either a suggested 100 feet or 200 feet from the subject property site.

Areas on the Prom designated resort-residential would be exempt, as hotels are permitted outright.

Parking limits and the elimination of “stacked” parking in long driveways could also be added to the list of restrictions.

Other changes could be a limit of one vacation rental permit per property owner, a requirement for a local emergency contact and annual compliance inspections.

While policy changes will be the topic of future Planning Commission sessions, the license fee will be a matter for a City Council vote.

Timing could be an issue, as business license applications will be mailed out in November.

Public hearings will be scheduled for Oct. 14 and Oct. 28.

Business licenses are usually sent out Nov. 15. “We may need to shorten the period people have to send it in, but it will still be reasonable,” City Manager Mark Winstanley said.

Even if the council does approve funding, hiring a code enforcement officer could be a difficult process, Winstanley said.

“You’re not hiring somebody who looks at this job and says, ‘This is going to be fun.’ It is a difficult job to fill,” he said. “You’d be doing very well if you hired somebody by the beginning of 2020. I think that’s the earliest.”

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