Residents in two neighborhoods again spoke out at Washington City Hall against proposed vacation rentals by owners (VRBOs).
This time it was during a public hearing in front of the Washington City Council.
Last week the city’s planning and zoning commission recommended the council deny the requests of Sarah Monzyk, 1208 Deer Run Drive, in the Deer Run subdivision; and Joette Reidy, 112 Lake Washington Drive, in the Lake Washington subdivision, for special use permits to operate VRBOs inside their homes in residentially zoned districts.
Residents in both subdivisions spoke against the VRBOs during a public hearing for the Monzyk request. Reidy withdrew her request prior to Monday’s meeting. Monzyk was not at the meeting.
The council took the comments under advisement, however, no ordinance was presented during the meeting.
An ordinance is expected to be voted on in November, unless Monzyk withdraws her request. Officials indicated that the special use permit would likely be denied by the council.
Community and Economic Development Director Sal Maniaci said the homeowners brought their requests to the zoning commission after he contacted them when he saw ads for their room rentals during the solar eclipse on AirBnB, an online marketplace where people lease or rent lodging. A special use permit is required for Washington residents in most zoning districts to rent out rooms or homes for short-term use.
Maniaci said all of the rentals are subject to the city’s 5 percent tourism tax and owners must purchase a merchants license.
When asked by Councilman Jeff Patke why the planning commission denied the request, Maniaci stated neighbors said VRBOs are “incompatible to the area and would cause a detriment to the neighborhood.”
Neighbors in both cases cited parking, security and noise as reasons they oppose the VRBOs. Some residents also stated business should not be conducted in residentially zoned subdivisions.
“We can speak for almost everyone in the subdivision,” said Nancy Helfrich, who lives on Deer Run Drive. “We definitely do not want this.”
Helfrich, and her husband, John, presented a petition signed by multiple neighbors who opposed the VRBO. All but two residents in the subdivision signed it.
“We want it to stay a single-family subdivision,” she added. “It it not what we signed up for.”
Deer Run subdivision resident Gary Vaughn described the subdivision as a “family neighborhood.”
“I don’t want to see something like this come along and destroy our neighborhood,” he said.
Janet Juedemann, the next door neighbor to Monzyk, said her concern is the property values in the neighborhood would go down.
“We want to maintain the integrity of the neighborhood,” she said. “This is our investment — what we are counting on as we age.”
Leon Hove, who lives in Lake Washington, stated that the code allowing VRBOs is too broad.
“Once you give a permit they can rent to one couple, or 10 couples, up to 60 nights,” he said. “You have no control over that.”
Proponent of VRBOs
Consultant for HomeAway and owner of VRBOs Tyann Marcink argued that these type of rentals increase property values.
“This is not something that brings property values down,” she said. “They always bring home values up.”
She noted that the guests are more strictly vetted than in other rental situations.
“They don’t want just anybody staying in their home,” Marcink said. “They are sharing their home.
“(VRBO owners) keep up their homes, probably better than their neighbors, because they want people to stay there,” she added.
Marcink stated there is a need for lodging in the area and the two hotels in Washington often are full.
Washington resident Mike Livengood asked if the city would explore VRBOs and how they may fit into city codes.
“The sharing economy is not going away,” he said. “It would be in the best interest of the community to find what is the best process.”
Maniaci noted the city is forming a committee to look into short-term lodging in Washington. The committee also will review ride sharing businesses like Lyft and Uber.