Third try at crafting Special Event facility rules January 22

The Planning Commission will hold a work session at its next meeting to try to come up with clear and fair rules that protect neighborhoods from the adverse impacts of big, noisy, crowded special events. Agenda materials HERE. The meeting begins at 6:30 at the County Annex, NW & Smith Roads.

Planning staff has been focusing on making the existing rules clear and easier to work with. There was never any intention in bringing up this issue to substantially change the rules in place.

Commission members are focusing on how to delineate to whom (or what situations) the rules should apply  and not apply. Now that people better understand the rules in place, they don’t like them. So the discussion continues. Here’s some background from previous posts: Sept 10  Sept 24

Two seats on Commission to be appointed January 27;
Deadline to apply Jan. 20

I wasn’t the only one not paying attention to the deadline for applications for the two seats up for appointment to the County Planning Commission. Only three people applied by the January 6 deadline, so the Council extended the application period to January 20, 10 am. HERE’S HOW TO APPLY.

Both seats are for the 1st District. The district boundaries are the same as the County Council. Here’s a map. If you are near the boundary, look yourself up HERE. OK – no excuses for not applying.

Those who read my posts on Planning Commission business regularly should have a good idea of the subject matter we deal with. However, the next two years in particular will be focused almost exclusively on the update to the County Comprehensive Plan. We won’t be dealing with smaller code revisions and zoning change applications. I’d be happy to talk to anyone who is thinking about applying.

Vacation Rental Regulation Rebuffed

After a full evening of testimony from mostly owners/operators of vacation rentals, the Commission voted 8-1 to recommend to the County Council a simple code change defining specifically that vacation rental units are permitted uses in residential zones. They are already allowed in the code, but not identified by name.

I voted with the majority. Here’s why: Only one of the many owners who spoke even mentioned the proposed regulations and the one that did said they would inflict “profound harm” to his business. Upon questioning, it was only one provision of the proposed rules that was a problem for him — the limit of one unit per lot — and it is not clear to me if what he is doing is legal anyway. But I’ll leave that alone. The owners really didn’t make the case that the really basic and reasonable proposed rules would be a burden on them. They mostly talked about how nice it was to have guests from different places, and how nice and responsible they were as owners. And also how much money their business brings to the county. None of which is relevant, in my opinion.

However, there also needed to be a case made for the regulations in the first place. None was made. The owner of the vacation rental that has been the target of the complaints to the County Council that kicked off this whole thing was in attendance. The commissioners questioned him on the complaints lodged by his neighbors. The tipping point for me was learning that the Sheriff had never made a call on him responding to a complaint. In other words, the neighbors didn’t use the rules we already have about noise, etc, to try to get their concerns addressed. Read my discussion of current enforcement options HERE. If real problems do arise in the future surrounding vacation rentals, we can always revisit this issue then.