Many thanks to the hundreds of you who attended to the Public Hearing last night, especially those who spoke up! You were well prepared with compelling arguments opposing this disastrous draft code. You clearly expressed our desire to see nuisance laws enforced, for existing STRs to be grandfathered in, a willingness to accept additional operating standards and help pay for enforcement, and strong dislike for the lottery. Code supporters spoke about affordability, neighborhood quality, and nuisance issues, and pushed for shortening the grace period further to 2 years. Here's the recording of the hearing in case you missed it.
By our count, there were 38 comments in support of STRs with only 10 against (mostly from the RUN steering committee), and 14 who were called on but didn’t speak for some reason, many of whom were STRACC members. So, we estimate almost a 4:1 ratio in support of STRs! Unfortunately, however, only 48 people in total got to speak out of the 306 that had signed up as of yesterday morning. The County has to draw the line somewhere, but 14% seems insufficient, especially since no local business owners got to speak. Many are just now learning about the proposed code and signed up too late to make the cut.
Regardless of the numbers, it was clear from the discussion afterward that we had a strong impact. The Commissioners asked CD Director Jim Brown to draft a revised code which would grandfather in existing STRs (as legal non-conforming uses), scrap the lottery system, and raise the STR cap from 5% to 10% of housing inventory. If adopted, these changes would be major improvements and signal that the BoCC is moving toward a more balanced approach and is willing to work with us.
We are not out of the woods yet, but last night’s hearing showed the Commissioners under a lot of pressure to consider the damage this code could bring to families, the economy and the county. This week, we are asking the Commissioners to schedule another hearing to give more people a chance to speak, especially business owners. We will also send the BoCC a letter with a simpler alternative code to consider that would focus on common-sense solutions and give us all a fresh start. We certainly hope to negotiate a fair compromise with Commissioners so we can ultimately all avoid costly lawsuits. We'll provide an update in the next few days.
In the meantime, keep submitting commentsto the BoCC. It you didn't get to speak, you can still submit your comments in writing. Even if you spoke or already submitted comments, you can send further thoughts about the hearing and discussion afterward. They want to hear from us. Please also THANK the Commissioners for hearing our input and considering major changes and course-correct at this late stage. Grandfathering existing STRs would be a big step forward. Encourage them to continue on a path to a middle ground and not try to rush this code. Written comments will remain open until Sunday night and should be sent to CD.STRcomment@co.chelan.wa.us.
Please also send any questions or comments to the STRACC board here at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'd really like to hear your thoughts about where things stand as of last night.
Overall, last night was was a good night for our side. The momentum seems to be shifting in our favor and we have some cause for hope (just in time for Christmas!). However, we have to stay focused. Our near-term goal remains to delay the vote into the new year so we can work with the Commissioners on a truly fair and balanced solution. Recent media coverage from the Seattle Times and Kiro 7 will raise more awareness around this battle and pressure for a balanced solution. Now is not the time to rush this through.
Thank you for your support, The STRACC Executive Board