City weighs moratorium on ‘tourist home’ conversions

Kirk Boxleitner kboxleitner@ptleader.com
Posted 3/14/17

The Port Townsend City Council plans to move “as soon as possible” to update its rules on short-term rentals, as well as declare a temporary moratorium on any new conversions to “tourist …

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City weighs moratorium on ‘tourist home’ conversions

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The Port Townsend City Council plans to move “as soon as possible” to update its rules on short-term rentals, as well as declare a temporary moratorium on any new conversions to “tourist homes,” according to City Manager David Timmons.

At the same time, both Timmons and Mayor Deborah Stinson acknowledged that, as of March 14, no dates had yet been set to discuss short-term rentals further, or to take a vote on a possible moratorium.

The City Council’s March 13 workshop extended past 9 p.m., as Stinson repeatedly asked council members to consider what their primary goals were in revising the short-term rental rules.

“We want to preserve neighborhood character and cohesion, promote long-term rentals, and foster stability and predictability,” Stinson said.

To that end, the council’s recommendations to the planning commission, presented to planning director Lance Bailey that night, would winnow the permissions currently enjoyed by short-term rentals in the “tourist home” category.

Under the revised guidelines, tourist-home rentals would still include a bedroom, a bathroom and a second room or “suite,” but would not be allowed to include a kitchen, a kitchenette or exterior entrances, all of which are currently permitted.

Council member Michelle Sandoval called for a moratorium on new conversions to tourist homes until the rules could be sorted out.

Bailey said the city has discussed short-term rental rules since October 2015, and there have been 13 conversions to tourist homes since then, with one currently pending.

Timmons and Stinson agreed that the temporary moratorium vote could be on the council agenda as early as its March 20 business meeting.

Stinson added that it might take until the council’s first meeting in April.

“This has been a long-running issue,” Stinson said. “We want to be as thoroughly deliberative as possible. As the landscape changes, we want to reassess the rules in line with that.”

“I want to get these issues back to the council as soon as possible,” Timmons said.

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