The Port Townsend City Council has amended an ordinance passed in March that puts a hold on applications for tourist homes such as the Pilot’s Cottage on Jackson Street. (Cydney McFarland/Peninsula Daily News)

The Port Townsend City Council has amended an ordinance passed in March that puts a hold on applications for tourist homes such as the Pilot’s Cottage on Jackson Street. (Cydney McFarland/Peninsula Daily News)

Port Townsend alters freeze on temporary housing applications, adds bed-and-breakfast inns

PORT TOWNSEND — The Port Townsend City Council has amended the city’s 180-day moratorium on applications for tourist homes by also blocking applications for bed-and-breakfasts.

The proposed amendment needed four votes to pass and five votes to bypass the need for a public hearing on the change. All five council members in attendance at Monday night’s meeting voted in favor of the amendment, which means there will not be a public hearing on the change and the new ordinance was implemented immediately.

Councilwomen Pamela Adams and Catharine Robinson were not in attendance, and no member of the public commented on this topic during Monday’s council meeting.

The Port Townsend Planning Commission recommended the change because bed-and-breakfasts are essentially tourist homes, according to Lance Bailey, city planning director.

“The original ordinance only included tourist homes, but since the two are so similar in nature, application staff is recommending that you include that,” Bailey said.

The difference in the city code between a tourist home and a bed-and-breakfast is the requirement that each bed-and-breakfast has a central kitchen, Bailey said.

Planning commission staff was concerned people would try to get around the moratorium on tourist home applications by offering some sort of food service, he said.

“While it wouldn’t really follow the intent of the code, it is possible that someone would make that argument,” Bailey said. “We just didn’t want to create a situation where someone is trying to get around the rules.”

The original ordinance has been in effect since March 20, when the council voted to immediately implement a 180-day moratorium on the processing of applications for tourist homes in Port Townsend.

During that meeting, council voted to waive council rules that necessitated a public hearing before the moratorium was implemented by declaring an emergency.

The moratorium was put into place to allow the planning commission and city council to consider changes to the city code regarding short-term rentals.

According to the terms of the amended ordinance, the city will not process applications for tourist homes or bed-and-breakfasts until Sept. 16. However, that would change if council action lifts the moratorium sooner.

The council will conduct another public hearing at 6:30 p.m. May 1 to present the planning commission’s recommendations for changes to the city code and to take public comment regarding short-term rentals. The meeting will be in council chambers at historic City Hall, 540 Water St.

The council will have the option May 1 of voting to implement the codes, in which case the moratorium will be lifted.

“I just hope we can reach the end of this,” said Councilman Robert Gray. “I think the next step after we do this is how to incentivize people with ADUs [accessory dwelling units] and the ability to do long-term rentals. I think that’s how this all started.”

In past meetings, members of the council and city staff have said the new code changes on short-term rentals are just one part of the city’s efforts to create more affordable long-term housing options for Port Townsend residents.

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Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at cmcfarland@peninsuladailynews.com.

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