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Objections voiced to short-term home rentals

 


A Lakeview Avenue couple in Electric City attended the council meeting last Tuesday to protest the proposed establishment of a short-term vacation rental area.

David and Nancy Brown, who live at 19 Lakeview Avenue, responded to a neighbor who has been renting out his home next to them for periods ranging in length from one day to longer terms.

Speaking to the council, Nancy Brown said the experience has been a nightmare with a number of issues, including unruly behavior, excessive noise, unsafe activity, traffic problems, trespassing, and fear of property damage.

The neighbors, Terry and Debra Ann Jensen, do not live in the area, but have petitioned the city to allow for vacation-rental status for their property, which is adjacent to the Browns and facing the waterfront on Banks Lake. The Jensens have advertised their rental property through Airbnb.com, according to Brown.

Lakeview Avenue, which runs past both properties, is very narrow and can’t accommodate a lot of traffic and parking.

“Electric City does not need more short-term rental properties,” Nancy Brown stated, noting that Sunbanks Lake Resort and Sky Deck Motel both provide this kind of facility.

Airbnb brings together travelers and property owners with easily set-up websites that include a “Book” button for renting such places. It handles payments, records reviews of the properties, pays the taxes collected, and keeps a 3- to 5-percent cut of the booking fee.

“Turn your extra space into extra income,” touts a tagline on the website, suggesting property owners can rent such extra space for $590 a week in the “Moses Lake” area.

Sunbanks Lake Resort advertises its facilities on the site. This week, only two other local properties came up on Airbnb with a search for “Electric City.” “The Dam Motorhome” rents for $69 a night overlooking Crescent Lake in Grand Coulee. The “Red Rock Shadow Ranch,” a four-bedroom house a five-minute walk from Jones Bay, is offered for more than $400 a night in the summer, plus a service fee. Its owners live in Snohomish, Washington, and bought the property in 2016.

“Short-term rental properties cause existing property values to decline,” Brown asserted, reading from a two-page letter. “Homeowners do not want to live in a transient rental zone, and homeowners did not buy their houses to live in a business district.”

The Jensens, who bought the house next to the Browns in 2016 and are listed as Edmonds, Washington, residents on the county assessor’s website, had contacted officials and suggested that the city consider changing its zoning laws, and ultimately its comprehensive plan, to accommodate short-term residential rentals.

The city hasn’t responded formally yet to the request, and the proposal will have to go before the city’s planning commission, made up of City Clerk Russell Powers, Deputy Clerk Diana Parrish and Kurt Danison, of Highland Associates, the city’s planner.

Powers said planners will put language together for the proposal, which will have to be presented at two public hearings, along with a 60-day review process before it can be enacted.

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