Hearing set on vacation rentals

New ordinance restricts rentals in Langley residential areas for six months

A new ordinance in Langley that temporarily halts applications for short-term rentals within the city’s residential area will be discussed at a public hearing 5:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 20, at City Hall.

The ordinance received unanimous support from the city council at a July 16 meeting. It places a six-month moratorium on bed and breakfast rooms and bed and breakfast inns within Langley’s residential mixed zones.

The council made the decision after hearing from Brigid Reynolds, director of community planning, about the need to review city codes relating to short-term rentals.

The codes were adopted in 1989 and amended in 2001 before private homeowners began turning extra rooms and unoccupied homes into income as nightly rentals. Advertising and reservations for the rooms are made on the internet, bypassing local control and taxes and state business licensing.

The Planning Advisory Board began discussing short-term rentals in May for several reasons, Reynolds said, including the impact of short-term rentals on long-term rentals and housing affordability.

At a public meeting in November, residents also expressed the need for antiquated housing codes to be updated for modern lodging trends.

In the past two-and-one-half years, the planning department has received four applications for short term-rentals and numerous inquiries about the topic, Reynolds said. Two of those applications are being allowed to proceed.

Reynolds said the moratorium gives time to study what changes are needed. Additionally, it prevents short-term renters from being approved and then told the rules have changed.

“The staff is not going to go out and start policing what’s there,” Reynolds told the council. “The intent is to give us some breathing space and sit down and work on code amendments that make sense for the community.”

More information about the rental moratorium can be viewed under public notices at www.langleywa.org/news

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