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Short-term rental laws pass in Gig Harbor

Gig Harbor’s city council passed an ordinance outlining how short-term rentals would operate in the city.

GIG HARBOR, Wash. — Short-term rentals are a controversial topic in Gig Harbor. For months, city leadership has been trying to determine how these rentals would operate in the city, while balancing their potential long-term impact.

Now new legislation finally lays out how short-term rentals can operate in Gig Harbor.

Gig Harbor’s City Council passed the ordinance during their Monday night meeting,

The ordinance allows short-term rentals in all residential and commercial zones where dwelling units are allowed and also restricts rental permits to one per person.

Currently, the city has a moratorium on accepting new applications for permits for short-term rentals, which was set to expire on March 12, but with the passage of this ordinance, the moratorium will now expire on the 8th, and the ordinance will go into effect.

The legislation was approved by a 6-1 vote, with Councilmember Jeni Woock being the sole voice of opposition.

Woock says there’s a concern that short-term rentals would make homebuying unaffordable in Gig Harbor, due to absentee landlords buying properties.

“When houses are being bid on to become short-term rental busineses, the price of housing goes up and it makes it harder for firefighters and schoolteachers to afford those homes,” she argued.

Meanwhile, Janet Lee and Diane Dahl both own short-term rental properties in Gig Harbor and work in real estate.

Lee says most of the short-term rental property owners live in Gig Harbor, and that most get into short-term renting not to get rich, but to make ends meet.  

“It’s not the wealthy that’re doing it,” Lee said. “It’s the people who need the extra income so they can stay in their houses, so they can pay their taxes, so they offer a room or their house.”

Woock also pointed out that having a rotating roster of tenants may disrupt the neighborly feeling in Gig Harbor.

“When you have short-term rentals in your neighborhood, you don’t have a neighbor,” Woock said. “That house next to you or across the street could have someone in it for two or three days and then those folks would be gone.”

But Lee says Gig Harbor residents make sure guests feel just as welcome in the city because that’s the true culture of Gig Harbor.

“We see people walking down the street from (short-term rentals) and we chat with them and say hi, and other neighbors who don’t have (short-term rentals) do the same thing, I mean, Gig Harbor’s a pretty friendly community,” Lee said.

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