City of Steilacoom bans Airbnb and other short-term rentals

The town of Steilacoom has banned short-term rentals like Airbnb, and some owners disagree with the decision.

The city council adopted the motion at the end of July by 5-0. Mayor Dick Muri said he heard from residents concerned about the transformation of the parking lot and houses in the residential area into “hotels”.

Craig Hanna has been a resident of Steilacoom for over 20 years. He rents a room through Airbnb to supplement his income to help cover his daughter’s education costs.

Hanna struggles with the council’s decision limiting what a homeowner can do with their home. At the 2015 US Open Championship, he started renting out rooms on the recommendation of the city for residents, Hanna said.

He rented premises for long term rentals, but he said it was more difficult to maintain. He believes the law targets shorter rentals, but long rentals can be more damaging to the city’s image.

“With long rentals, the appearance of the house is more difficult to maintain,” he said. “Often the flower beds are dead or several cars are parked in front of them. ”

The change to the city code has no impact on long-term rentals, guest rooms and guest rooms. Muri said the biggest difference is that the owner is present in the guest rooms.

A short term rental is defined as a stay of 30 days or less.

Hanna is concerned that this will reduce the income possibilities for the residents of Steilacoom. The city is widely regarded as a historic community with a handful of restaurants and small businesses.

“Eliminating some economic growth for these residents is devastating because there aren’t a lot of options for them,” Hanna said.

Muri said landowners who rent out space simply need to obtain a business license and move into the property to continue.

“We still have licensed guest rooms,” the mayor said. “People can come and stay, and the owner is on site at the residence to provide services.

The city began to address the issue in 2019 after residents expressed concerns.

“It was not done quickly,” Muri said. “It was a thoughtful discussion of the planning committee and months before city council.”

City administrator Paul Loveless said Steilcoom was not the only jurisdiction in Washington with strict rental rules, and Leavenworth pointed out. Chelan County, where Leavenworth is located, recently passed a law banning short-term rentals in residential areas.

The city of 6,500 has between 2,600 and 2,800 homes, said Doug Fortner, town planner for Steilacoom. The city estimates that between five and ten units are rented on a short-term basis.

Among other requirements, the state requires businesses that earn $ 12,000 or more to register. The Steilacoom city code has a lower threshold, requiring anyone doing business to obtain a business license from the city.

The code change is in effect, but gives Airbnb owners and existing short-term rental owners six months to comply. If there are still rentals by the end of January, owners will be fined $ 500 for the first day of violation and $ 1,000 per day thereafter.

Hanna said he would stop renting his room because he doesn’t want to be a bed and breakfast.

This story was originally published 4 August 2021 2:29 pm.

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Josephine Peterson covers Pierce County government news for The News Tribune.

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