Community Government

City Council extends short-term rental moratorium, interim zoning measure

Posted on March 29th, 2022 By:

The Gig Harbor City Council on Monday renewed two emergency ordinances originally enacted in September.

One extends interim zoning for transitional housing, permanent supportive housing, emergency shelters and emergency housing. The interim zoning was approved by the council last fall.

The interim regulations were adopted in response to 2021 legislation that requires cities to amend their comprehensive plans and zoning codes regarding such housing.

The planning commission held several hearings in the past six months and had planned to recommend new zoning regulations in early March. However, the city received new information from the state Department of Commerce that requires more study and, possibly, additional public hearings. Hence the need to renew the interim zoning controls for another six months.

Community Development Director Katrina Knutson said her department hopes to have a recommendation for council consideration within a month.

Short-term rentals

The council also renewed a moratorium, passed last fall, on acceptance of new short-term rental applications.

The moratorium was issued in response to concerns regarding the rise in short-term rentals and the lack of appropriate permitting guidelines. Because city code currently doesn’t address short term rentals, the Community Development Department has temporarily included them under the a land-use designation known as “Lodging Level 1.”

According to Knutson, that category wasn’t created for such a use. It alludes to a lodging type in which the owner/operator lives on the premises, and it doesn’t specify an amount of time for such rentals.

A recent survey found that there may be as many as 60 short-term rentals operating in Gig Harbor, and only two of them are properly permitted, Knutson said.

During the moratorium, the planning commission received comments from more than three dozen residents.

“The comments are very well thought-out and that will be helpful to us in crafting the new legislation,” Knutson said.

The department has also researched how other cities handle short-term rental regulations.

Because of staffing shortages, Community Development wasn’t able to finalize recommendations for code updates within the six-month time frame. The department is now fully staffed “and we’re moving ahead on this, and we anticipate that it will be done in three months,” Knutson said.

Also on Monday: The City Council approved its first two-year strategic plan.