Roslyn Ridge

The Roslyn Ridge rises above downtown Roslyn, Nov. 11, 2014. The issue of short-term rentals has arisen in Roslyn and communities throughout the county.

Over the past decade or so, the rise of Airbnb’s and vacation rentals have presented communities with both an increase in tourism, and in some cases, disturbances to full-time residents of those communities.

Kittitas County Board of Commissioners discussed the county code and the county noise ordinance with Community Development Services and the Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office during a special meeting last Wednesday. The purpose of the hearing was not to consider changes to county ordinances but to hear concerns from county residents.

Upper County resident Gayla Barton said in an e-mail to commissioners that this uptick in untraditional vacation homes has created a noisy environment for some full-time residents and asked how many people apply for the correct permits to rent out larger groups of people.

“There should be a limit to the placement of a rental. It’s not fair to a full-time resident to have a short-term rental opened up next door or across the street, ruining their quality of life without having any say in the matter,” Barton said. “As much as tourists are important for revenue, full-time residents are important, too, and valuable to this community, but it is starting to seem like that’s backwards. If some stricter rules aren’t drafted then this problem is going to become worse and you will lose more and more full-time residents.”

Commissioner Obie O’Brien suggested the county and CDS look into the structure of the city of Ellensburg’s noise ordinance which operates on an escalating scale. The first infraction for violating the noise ordinance increases with each consecutive violation.

Kittitas County Undersheriff Clay Myers said he believes there are unintended consequences with every new regulation and very few people are actually in violation of the county’s noise ordinance, which is in place from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. every morning.

“I think this is solvable under the noise ordinance,” Myers said.

Kittitas County Commissioner Laura Osiadacz agreed the issue is a new one in recent years, but increasing enforcement of noise complaints is probably not the best use of the law law enforcement’s time.

“Honestly I think a lot of this has to do with education,” Osiadacz said.

Myers said education is something their deputies prioritize and for the most part, if people are educated on the details of the noise ordinance, the less likely they are to repeat or violate the offense.

He said very few people are actually in violation the ordinance.

Dan Carlson, director of Community Development Service, said there is very little in county code which distinguishes between short-term and long-term rentals.

In her email, Barton also brought up the part of county noise ordinance which states there are not supposed to be more than “five unrelated guests per house.”

Local developer Pat Deneen, who owns rentals in Roslyn, said the issue isn’t so bad and that it’s unclear how to even verify who is family and who isn’t.

There is no limit on the number of family members in a house.

“You could go looking for problems you don’t have,” Deneen said.

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