Chelan County considers limits on short-term rentals

LEAVENWORTH, Wash. (AP) — Tourists may soon find it harder to book an Airbnb near Leavenworth, Lake Chelan and other popular areas in Chelan County, Washington.

The Seattle Times reports county commissioners are considering new limits on short-term rentals and could approve restrictions as soon as next week.
Though final details are still being debated, the rules could create a new permitting scheme and limit the number of short-term rentals starting in three years.

The debate has raged on town Facebook pages and in community councils that usually would be busy planning events like the annual Santa Breakfast (canceled this year because of the pandemic).

Locals pushing for the new rules say the explosion of Airbnb, VRBO and other rental sites is transforming their residential neighborhoods and squeezing the local housing market.
A consultant hired by the county estimated at least 1,200 rentals operate in unincorporated areas of Chelan County, up from t 76 in 2014.

Rental owners counter that their properties help fuel the region’s tourism-dependent economy and create jobs. An analysis by a Central Washington realtors group estimated that people staying in short-term rentals spent about $560 per party daily on food, recreation and shopping.

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