We wanted to share a new study released this week about the Economic Impact of STRs on Chelan County. The study was commissioned by the North Central Washington Association of Realtors ("NCWAR") represented by one of our affiliate attorneys who submitted the study along with public comments in support of STRs and against the current moratorium. To summarize the highlights of the report, the rental fees and spending by guests of STRs in unincorporated areas generated:
$108 million in direct economic activity, and another $45 million in indirect activity.
$42 million in wages and supported over 1,400 jobs.
$820,000 in general sales taxes, 10% of total collections in Chelan
$2.3 million in lodging taxes
As we all know, this type of economic analysis has been sorely missing from the STR review process thus far and conspicuously lacking from the BERK Situational Assessment commissioned by the County earlier this year. Our economic Impact has been the elephant in the room in this whole debate, so it’s great to finally have some real economic data to help guide the process. We hope the County will give our economic impact serious consideration as the process moves forward.
Next week: The Planning Commission is scheduled to deliberate on the proposed code next Wednesday Sept 23 at 7pm with a possible decision to send the code back again to the BoCC. This comes after their somewhat chaotic Sept 9th Public Hearing (recorded here), in which the PC inexplicably decided to cut off public comments at 8:45pm in a meeting that was scheduled to go until 10pm. Many people were unable to speak and left confused, just when momentum had shifted in favor to STRs. We counted a ratio of at least 2:1 of comments in favor of STRs vs. those against. Unfortunately, no further public comment will be admitted before next week's deliberation meeting, but you'll be able to listen in via this Zoom link. Public comments will likely resume if and when the BoCC gets the code back from the PC.
Finally, we want to again express our gratitude to all STRACC members for your continued financial support. Our legal strategy is clearly working. We are disrupting the process and creating space for important discussions that must be had before the County passes any code that will so seriously endanger our local economies.
Please continue donating so we can keep defending your property rights. The STRACC board serves on a strictly volunteer basis. All of your donations go to legal expenses, minus a tiny amount of administrative expense. We can't continue this fight without you. So thank you again!!
Just sending a reminder about the Public Hearing next Wednesday, Sept 9 at 7pm. As you recall from our last update, we filed a strategic lawsuit that forced the BoCC to remand the draft code back to the Planning Commission and have them redo their public hearing for procedural violations of the Open Public Meetings Act.
Please register today to speak at next week's meeting to share your thoughts about the proposed code. As usual, everyone will get 2 minutes to speak. To be clear, STRACC's position is that all existing STR uses should be permanently grandfathered in without sunset clauses or revokable permits. However, we support the idea that STR owners register a "responsible party form" with the County Sheriff's office to help enforce existing nuisance codes. We believe this directly address the typical neighbor complaints (noise, parking, garbage etc.)
However, we will not relent on grandfathering. Last week, we submitted documentary evidence which unequivocally demonstrates that County's longstanding policy of allowing STRs without permits. Since existing STR owners and operators have relied on this policy, we believe this evidence gives us strong legal standing to file civil lawsuits for damages if existing STRs are not grandfathered in as legal, non-conforming uses in the proposed code. Today (Sept 4) is also the last day to submit written public comment, which you can send by email to CD.STRComment@co.chelan.wa.us.
Finally, we greatly appreciate the big show of support we received from STRACC members after last week's email update. This legal defense of our property rights relies on your continued financial assistance. You can safely DONATE ONLINE or by sending a check to STRACC, PO Box 321, Leavenworth, WA 98826.