Hearing set Tuesday on short-term rentals in Langley

A public hearing on how the city of Langley intends to regulate short-term vacation rentals is scheduled 6 p.m., Tuesday, April 30 at Langley Methodist Church.

“I’ll be presenting a framework, not draft regulations,” said Brigid Reynolds, director of community planning.

The following day, the Planning Advisory Board meets at 3 p.m. to review comments from the hearing.

“Depending on what we hear, we will proceed or we might have to go back to the drawing board,” Reynolds said.

Last summer, the city council placed a moratorium on new applications for short-term rentals that have exploded in popularity with online booking sites, such as Airbnb.

The moratorium was intended to give city planners time to consider how online short-term rental services affect Langley neighborhoods, the housing market, long-term rental availability and the local economy.

In 2015, Langley had an estimated 50 short-term rentals, Reynolds said.That number increased to 195, according to an informal internet search at the end of 2017.

Communities across the country, including Coupeville, have enacted similar moratoriums on new short-term rental applications, mostly to allow time to figure out how to regulate online bookings that often bypass local licenses and taxes.

Crafting new regulations means balancing residents’ desire to generate income and attract tourism to the city while also appeasing fears of neighbors about loud, partying visitors and the hassles of fewer parking spaces and more garbage.

“We estimate 75 percent are operating without a business license,” Reynolds said.