Clallam County commissioners discuss rules for short-term rentals; public hearing planned

The panel has agreed to set a public hearing for a draft ordinance regulating vacation rentals that the planning commission recommended for approval.

Clallam County commissioners discuss rules for short-term rentals; public hearing planned

PORT ANGELES — Unincorporated Clallam County’s growing and unfettered inventory of short-term vacation rentals is on the verge of getting regulated.

Clallam County commissioners agreed Monday to set a public hearing for a draft ordinance regulating vacation rentals that the planning commission recommended for approval July 20.

The date of the hearing hasn’t been set. Commissioner Mike Chapman said Tuesday that he expects the hearing to be in late August or early September.

Short-term rentals also an issue in neighboring Port Townsend, where the city Planning Commission voted 6-0 July 13 to recommend the prohibition of short-term rentals of under 29 days in which owners do not live on-site.

The new Clallam County regulations are driven by residents’ complaints and the growth of Airbnb.

The San Francisco-based company founded in 2008 connects vacationers directly with rentals and has more than 2 million listings worldwide.

“It was past time to pay attention to it,” Mary Ellen Winborn, county Department of Community Development director, said Tuesday. “People complain all the time.”

Vacation rentals of under a month in residences where the owners are not present are not regulated in the Clallam County comprehensive plan. That includes no rules on how many people can rent the places.

Under the proposed ordinance, the maximum number of visitors would be determined by the capacity of the septic system, and one space of on-site parking would be provided for every bedroom in the vacation rental.

The county would conduct safety inspections of the accommodations prior to being rented, and owners would have to meet local and state regulations for business licenses and lodging taxes.

The need for new regulations “was driven more about the complaints, and the more we looked into it, we realized it was because of the need, just because of the number,” Winborn said.

“We have over 400 Airbnbs in the area.

“We know Airbnb is there, and people are calling and saying, ‘What do I have to do to be an Airbnb.’

“It was past time to pay attention to it.”

She recalled one woman who became a default landlord for a neighboring short-term rental after the renters had trouble with the septic system.

“She had to reset the septic system alarm all the time.”

Winborn said most of the complaints have been generated from waterfront parcels in Sequim, followed by the Port Angeles area.

Senior Planner Donella Clark said the regulation will “level the playing field a little bit more” with bed and breakfasts and other lodging establishments that abide by land-use and other regulations.

Winborn said the new regulation also will make it easier for county Code Enforcement Officer Barb McFall to address neighborhood concerns.

The potential for neighborhood conflict is addressed by the ordinance.

According to its statement of purpose, the ordinance is an effort at “community investment,” the lack of which can create community conflict when scenic destinations become popular.

It “will provide clear guidelines for owners to operate and be accountable to their neighbors, and tenants to know that they are safe and can enjoy their stay,” according to the statement.

Under their present freedom, owners of unregulated, short-term rentals “have no obligations,” Commissioner Bill Peach said at Monday’s meeting.

Winborn said Airbnb has criteria for its rental agreements and there are some state laws regarding transient accommodations.

“We don’t have a whole lot to help us out,” she said.

Sequim-area Commissioner Mark Ozias said Tuesday that vacation rentals have increased exponentially over the last few years.


“It is a business that has obviously really exploded and taken off,” he said.

“We are finding that other counties and municipalities around the the country are finding there are concerns.

“Neighbors have concerns about how property is being used, and potential guests want to have some assurance that the place they are staying at is safe.”

Ozias and Chapman said they both support the ordinance.

Peach was not available for comment at his office Tuesday afternoon.

More in Home

Finalists for the 2023 Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber Commerce’s Citizen of the Year award include, front row, from left, Carol Labbe and Pauline Olsen. Not pictured is the award recipient, Renne Emiko Brock, who was unable to attend the chamber’s annual awards luncheon on Tuesday. Pictured with Labbe and Olsen are, back row, from left, chamber President Eran Kennedy, chamber Executive Director Beth Pratt and Lorie Fazio, Citizen of the Year committee chair. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)
Art advocate Brock named Sequim Citizen of Year

Labbe, Olsen finalists for town’s top civic award

Port Hadlock man accused of breaking into cat shelter, hijacking delivery truck

‘Crime spree’ reported by Clallam County Sheriff

Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe council leaders celebrate the opening of the tribe’s new library at its Blyn campus on Saturday. Pictured, from left, are treasurer Theresa Lehman, vice chair Loni Grinnell-Greninger, chair/CEO Ron Allen and secretary Rochelle Blankenship. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)
Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe celebrates library opening

Chairman/CEO: New facility is ‘second to none’

Mother and daughter Shelly Tweter and Peach Thompson look over silent auction items at the Red, Set, Go! event Friday at Field Arts & Events Hall in Port Angeles. (Dave Logan/for Peninsula Daily News)
Luncheon raises funds for Olympic Medical Center Heart Center

The Olympic Medical Center Foundation’s 16th Red, Set, Go!… Continue reading

Solar array, battery storage to be installed on Port Angeles Senior Center

System could provide hours of backup power in case of an outage

About 30 sailboats compete in the Port Townsend Sailing Association’s 33rd annual Shipwrights Regatta on Port Townsend Bay on Saturday. More of a fun event than a sailing competition, awards are given out during a pizza party afterward for the most navigationally challenged (Directional Helmet trophy) and for the “saltiest” boat and crew. (Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News)
Shipwrights Regatta

About 30 sailboats compete in the Port Townsend Sailing Association’s 33rd annual… Continue reading

UPDATE: Power restored between Sequim, Port Angeles

A tree has been removed from a Clallam County PUD… Continue reading

Dream Playground to be fully covered by insurance

Donations still will be used in May rebuild

The City of Sequim hosts 13 manufactured home/mobile home parks with 596 existing units and 786 approved dwelling units. City staff continue to look into zoning options that could protect these sites from redevelopment to help protect affordable housing options in the city. (City of Sequim)
Sequim extends its mobile home moratorium

City staff to work preserving manufactured housing option

Olympic Medical Center chief outlines efforts at improvements

Decreased number of travelers among them

Jay and Trudi Inslee wear red for #WearRedDay to support women’s heart health in 2022. (Jay Inslee)
Gov. Inslee reflects in his final year of three terms

On the second level of the white and gray marbled… Continue reading