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Short-term rental issue dominates council


The question of allowing “short-term rentals” in Electric City dominated the council meeting Tuesday night.

The city had prepared a draft ordinance, which was for information only, but clearly spelled out that if Electric City eventually allowed the rental issue to stand, then it would be tightly controlled.

Terry and Debra Ann Jensen, who live in Edmonds, purchased a residence on Lakeview Avenue in 2016. They asked the city if they could use the residence for short-term residential rentals.

A neighbor complained to the council last month of noise, parking problems, and unruly behavior at the house next door, which apparently has already been used as a short-term rental.

City Clerk Russell Powers responded last night to a question on why this issue was coming up again. It had been voted down by the council a few years ago, after Merv and Mary Jo Monteith, who owned a house in Electric City, had asked for the very same thing but were denied. Powers explained that now is a different time, with a different council.

The city clerk also noted that the ordinance the council was looking at was a “draft” document, and that before any such ordinance could be passed, the city would have to hold two public hearings and the public would have plenty of time to address the issue.

George Osborne appeared on behalf of the property owners and reassured everyone that the Jensens had every intention of having an operation that would be approved by neighbors.

Councilmember Birdie Hensley said short-term vacation rentals operate in other cities and could provide income for the city.

The draft ordinance states that an administrative permit would be required, which would entail getting a business license. The short-term rental owner, if living more than 50 miles away, would have to have a local property representative available so they could respond if anything went wrong during a rental.

Under the ordinance, there would be a revocation procedure and penalties if the regulations were not followed.

The ordinance would not come before the council for approval until June, allowing plenty of time for the public hearings and study by the members of the council.

Nancy Brown, who lives next door to the Jensen property, appeared again Tuesday night to let the council know that she and her husband, David, were not for having a short-term rental operation only a few feet away from their property.

She had told the council in January that it was a “nightmare,” with unruly behavior and a host of other problems.

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