Proposal in Chelan County could shake up the short term rental industry in a big way

When you look up vacation rentals in Chelan County, there are a lot of options owned by private owners.

One of them is a beautiful house in Leavenworth along the Wenatchee River owned by Gary Plannagan.

 “I invested everything I own into it, all my money, my retirement, everything,” Plannagan said.

The home sleeps 6 people and boasts 5 star reviews.

 The 65 year-old also owns Osprey Rafting in Leavenworth so tourism is the center stone of his family’s livelihood. Plannagan says he is very concerned over proposed legislation that would restrict short term rentals in residential zones in Chelan County.

“Our county commissioners want to shut down between 75 to 95 percent of our nightly rentals,” Plannagan said.

Residents pushing to decrease nightly rentals say a lot of it has to do with a sense of community.

“We want people who live here and contribute to the neighborhood,” Kirvil Skinnarland with Residents United for Neighbors said.

Skinnarland says around 15% of rentals are short term around the Leavenworth area directly impacting those who live and work there.

“People can’t afford places to rent long term, people can’t afford places to buy,” Skinnarland said.

Skinnarland says there is also the noise and nuisance factor.

“We’ve had parking issues, garbage issues, trespass issues,” Skinnarland said.

But Plannagan says those problems are being exaggerated.

He says only a handful of properties are causing issues out of the more than 1700 short term rentals acting as good neighbors.

Plannagan says although he doesn’t live on his vacation properties he takes care of them.

 “I think everyone knows where the problem places are it would be great if we could handle that,” Plannagan said.

He says the impact goes well beyond his life with hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars tied to the industry now at stake. 

  “It could have significant impacts and we realize that,” Commissioner Doug England said.

England is one of three Chelan County leaders with the power to make a final decision.

“There will be some type of restrictions,” England said.

On Friday England telling Q13 News that he predicts restrictions and new standards will be imposed. But what those restrictions will be exactly will have to be finalized during the December 29th meeting.

“Tourism is one of the legs of our economy but in the same token remember again we have people on both sides of the argument that insist just for revenue that we are selling out their rights, their rights to enjoy their property,” England said.

Plannagan says he can also use that same argument. He says the government shouldn’t be able to strip away property rights he’s already had for many years. 

If restrictions pass, it will go through a 60 day review by the state. 

Under the current draft, there is a 3 year grace period before owners would have to stop operating.

The proposed restrictions would only impact people who have short term rentals and don't live on the property.