White Salmon’s proposed regulation of short-term and vacation rentals within City limits will be the subject of a public hearing at today’s City Council meeting, which starts at 6 p.m.

The council’s Community Development Committee is moving the ordinance forward to the council for adoption, either today or in October.

Proposed motions for City Councilors are to move for adoption of the ordinance upon first reading following conclusion of the public hearing, or refer the ordinance back to the Community Development Committee for amendments based on public input for possible adoption on Oct. 2.

The City Council previously reviewed a short-term rental proposal prepared by the committee on July 17. Councilors Marla Keethler and Amy Martin comprise the committee. The council took public comment on the draft on that date.

A short-term rental is defined in the draft ordinance as “A dwelling unit or lodging unit for which an owner receives or seeks remuneration for use or occupancy for a period of less than 30 consecutive days per rental period.”

The draft ordinance says the City recognizes short-term rentals in the community, particularly for vacation rentals, are in demand. It further says the City “feels it is necessary to regulate the use of these rentals” to protect the life, health, and safety of potential occupants, property owners, and neighbors. As a final point in support of regulation, the City notes it has an approved lodging tax for lodging business and “requiring short-term rentals to pay an equivalent tax equalizes the tax structure for private and commercial lodging facilities.”

A meeting memo from City Clerk/Treasurer Jan Brending advised councilors that the committee made “several changes” to the original proposal.

“The committee identified a tiered pricing level related to registering short-term rentals, understanding that there are different levels of short-term rentals occurring in the City,” Brending wrote.

“Another change made by the committee was to the time period a registration can be revoked.” Brending said the committee received comments that revoking registrations/permits “immediately” for violations of the ordinance “could cause several problems and that 30-day notice was more appropriate.”

The ordinance, if enacted, will enable the City to set up a short-term rental permitting system and registry, establish operational requirements for short-term rental managers, and penalties for code violations. Permits would be good for one year but would expire on Dec. 31, regardless of date of issuance. Permits would be renewable annually.

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