Short-term rental ordinance still up in air

Council votes to send proposal back to planning and zoning commission

Posted 10/31/19

Englewood City Council has decided to pump the brakes on an ordinance concerning short-term rentals, a service where homeowners rent out their residences, either whole houses or rooms, for 30 days or …

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Short-term rental ordinance still up in air

Council votes to send proposal back to planning and zoning commission

Posted

Englewood City Council has decided to pump the brakes on an ordinance concerning short-term rentals, a service where homeowners rent out their residences, either whole houses or rooms, for 30 days or less.

The decision was made after a first reading of the ordinance took place at the Oct. 21 council meeting. The ordinance centered around zoning restrictions for short-term rentals and permit/registration requirements — but the majority of council voted to send it back to the Englewood Planning and Zoning Commission. Concerns of accessory dwelling units (ADUs) being included in the ordinance and a need for more clarification regarding enforcement issues prompted the vote.

An ADU is defined as a small, self-contained residential unit located on the same lot as an existing single-family home by the Municipal Research and Services Center, an organization that works with local governments across the state of Washington. They contain facilities like a kitchen, sleeping area and a bathroom.

In the ordinance, ADUs would have been allowed to be used as a short-term rental service. Language in the proposal says only the residence or the ADU could have been granted a short-term rental permit. Both structures couldn’t be permitted concurrently, the ordinance reads.

At the beginning of the year, council voted for ADUs to be allowed in the city. They’re seen as an affordable housing option and a way for homeowners to bring in more income.

“I could not vote on (the short-term rental ordinance) if we leave ADUs in there. I know people on planning and zoning won’t be happy with that, but I voted for ADUs for affordable housing,” said Englewood Mayor Linda Olson. “That was the only reason. Making them short-term rentals for me has to go.”

If a landlord of short-term rentals failed to meet the terms of the proposed regulations, the landlord could face a fine of up to $2,650 or imprisonment for up to 360 days. The ordinance reads that the city would be entering into a contract with LodgingRevs to monitor and provide staff assistance with enforcement of short-term rentals — an action that already has approval from city council.

Ultimately, council wasn’t comfortable with the proposed short-term rental regulations and wants more clarity.

“We have had issues with enforcement. We currently do,” said Councilmember Amy Martinez. Englewood staff estimates that there are more than 120 operating short-term rentals in the city. The service isn’t legal in Englewood. “I appreciate the desire to button that up and make (enforcement plans) very clear.”

Council voted 5-2 in favor of the ordinance being sent back to Englewood’s Planning and Zoning Commission to remove ADUs from the ordinance and to come up with an enforcement plan that is clearer. Councilmembers Rita Russell and Dave Cuesta voted against it.

“I think we’re working toward approval here, which I appreciate that those who support it want to get some more precision and teeth into the enforcement, which I do support if it passes, but again, I don’t think (short-term rentals are) right for Englewood,” said Cuesta.

The ordinance as is would require short-term rental operators to obtain a state sales tax license, an Englewood sales and use tax license and an Englewood lodging license. Operators would also need to pay $150 per registration annually under the proposed permit/registration system. That money would have covered the city’s cost to hire a third-party enforcement agency, the ordinance says.

Other regulations under the proposed ordinance included that a rental must be the owner’s primary residence, a requirement for one parking space per bedroom and a cap of eight renters in a residence. If the ordinance had passed, short-term rentals would have become legal in residential, multi-use and medical zoned districts.

Back in June, the Planning and Zoning Commission voted 7-1 in favor of sending the ordinance to Englewood City Council.

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