• Seattle City Council to vote on short-term rental limits

    By: Amy Clancy

    Updated:

    SEATTLE - Some members of the Seattle City Council believe the city’s low-income residents are being displaced by the growing short-term rental business, dominated by AirBnB operators and those who offer rooms to rent on other, similar platforms.

    So, on Monday, the full council will vote on CB 119081, a bill that will:

    • Define and establish a regulatory licensing framework for short-term rental platforms and operators, and bed and breakfast operators who utilize short-term rental platforms; 
    • Establish a cap on the number of dwelling units a person can operate as a short-term rental to two dwelling units; 
    • Exempt from the cap units lawfully operated as a short-term rental prior to Sept. 30, 2017, within the Downtown, Uptown or South Lake Union Urban Centers, and units in certain building types in the First Hill/Capitol Hill Urban Center; and 
    • Require that all short-term rental operators, bed and breakfast operators who use short-term rental platforms, and platform companies have a Title 6 Regulatory License.

    At a meeting of the Planning, Lane Use and Zoning Committee on Tuesday, Andy Morris told the committee he and his wife quit their jobs to work full time in the short-term rental industry.  

    “We did so in a legal manner,” Morris said.  

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    “We pay our taxes, we have our license and so, in the interest of fairness, it seems appropriate to grandfather those who have been acting in good faith, as we have,” he said.

    As the bill now stands, most short-term renters who rent a single unit out of their primary residence will not be affected by the new regulations.

    CB 119081, however, will cap how many units future renters will be able operate.

    Councilman Mike O’Brien said Airbnb and other short-term rental platforms are not completely responsible for the displacement of some Seattle residents, but he believes they are a contributing factor.

    “What I hear from those most at risk of displacement – communities of color; low-income communities; immigrant refugee communities – is that they’re disproportionately impacted by the expansion (of businesses such as Air BnB)," O’Brien said. That is why he plans to vote for the bill.

    So does Councilwoman Lisa Herbold, who said the ultimate goal of the new bill “has been not only to stem the tide of loss of long-term housing, but also to the extent that we can return some of those units to the long-term market.”

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