Short-term rentals have been on the rise lately, and Alaska is no exception. A moratorium on short-term rental permits in the Alaskan community of Sitka expired recently, and, subsequently, in his quest to secure a permit for himself, a property owner (in the article below) has devised what seems like an effective rhetorical strategy for arguing your case as to why you should be granted a conditional-use permit. Namely, the strategy is to posit that “I will only rent out my property to a short-term tenant if a long-term tenant is unable to be found.” The Alaskan property owner testified to the city Planning Commission and was recommended for Assembly approval unanimously. It may seem like a dubious strategy, but hey, it’s worked for him so far! His request went to Assembly on January 8.
The Daily Sitka Sentinal, “Planning Panel Backs 3 Short-Term Rentals“:
The Sitka Planning Commission recommended Assembly approval Tuesday night of three short-term rentals.
Planning Director Wells Williams told the panel that the Assembly at its Dec. 11 meeting will be discussing better monitoring of the number of short-term rentals, which has been on the rise recently.
“There has been a concern because of the number,” he said.
A short-term rental is one in which guests stay 14 days or fewer in a stand-alone dwelling, such as an apartment or a house. Customers pay bed tax and sales tax, unlike those who rent for 30 days or more, who pay no tax. Short-term rentals require a conditional use permit in residential zones.
Williams said he’s working on some recommendations for monitoring the number of local short-term rentals and bed-and-breakfast permits that are active, and will present them to the Assembly.
A sharp increase in conditional use permits for short-term rentals a number of years ago resulted in a moratorium on new permits out of a concern that they would change the characteristic of residential zone neighborhoods and take too many properties out of the long-term rental market.
That moratorium expired with little notice, but in the last few months a few families and property owners have applied for short-term rental permits for their residential-zoned homes.
The Planning Commission reviewed all three requests Tuesday for conditional use permit for short-term rental units, and recommended Assembly approval with conditions and findings. The permit requests go next to the Assembly on Jan. 8 for approval.
The permit votes were as follows:
– 3-0 for a conditional use permit for a short-term rental for Tim Riley and Sandra Gelber at 630 Merrill Street. Chairman Jeremy Twaddle recused himself from voting since he has done construction work on the property. Riley testified by phone, saying his intention is to rent the house out for the long-term, but use the short-term rental option if a long-term renter isn’t found. One neighbor wrote a letter expressing concerns about increased traffic, parking and noise.
Sharon Romine, the owner of Creative Connections Welcome Home Vacations, which manages short-term rentals here, said she has strict regulations spelled out to renters, and violation of the regulations means an immediate eviction of the guests.
Those voting in favor were Richard Parmalee, Darrell Windsor and Cheryl Westover, who just joined the commission.
– 4-0 for a conditional use permit for a short-term rental at 601 Sawmill Creek Road, a property owned by Mike and Jacqueline LaGuire.
– 4-0 for a conditional use permit for a short-term rental at 2613 Halibut Point Road, owned by Melody Price-Yonts and Robert Yonts.
In other business, the Assembly voted 4-0 to approve a 16-foot setback to Jack Fredrickson, to allow him to build an addition onto a home at 103 Sunset Drive. The commission also approved findings.
On a 4-0 vote the panel also approved a replat to allow Halibut Marine Services to combine its two properties into one. Property owner Chris McGraw said the replat will allow him to build a larger shelter for cruise ship passengers next to the cruise ship dock on his property, at 4513 Halibut Point Road.
The meeting opened with a welcome to Westover, the former mayor, who just joined the commission; and a thank you to Tom Rogers, who resigned early from his term. Chris Spivey attended the meeting, and has applied to fill the vacancy.