WALLA WALLA, Washington — Walla Walla City Council voted to ban short-term rentals that are nonowner-occupied.
The vote taken on Nov. 1 was to adopt Ordinance No. 2017-33 in the city of Walla Walla, banning new Type 2 short-term rentals that are non-owner-occupied.
According to Walla Walla’s FAQ on the matter on the city government website, it was decided at the Nov. 1 meeting that non-owner-occupied rentals in Walla Walla that were established before Thursday this week could continue to operate, as long as the owners applied for and acquired city business registration before then, and as long as the owner fully and timely paid all applicable taxes.
Mayor Walla Walla Alan Pomraning says that there are 190 active short-term rentals in Walla Walla right now and that there are “whole city blocks that are now rentals”. He says there are people in Seattle packaging Walla Walla houses and selling them as investment real estate blocks, which is causing the conversion of a number of neighborhoods into commercial zones. Pomraning tells My Columbia Basin that the decision to create a ban is based on the idea of keeping a “balance”. He says that they are not evenly distributed around the city, but rather are very “concentrated” in older neighborhoods. Pomraning states that he is a “deep believer in private property rights”, but admits that “not only do investors have property rights but so do the existing homeowners”.
Anyone who has already made an investment can continue to rent. Pomraning states, “this was the best and only way we had of keeping the wholesale conversion of our older neighborhoods… in check”. He also mentions that the word ‘ban’ is perhaps not the best word to use in the situation since it gives the connotation that all short-term rentals in the area will be dissolved, which he states is simply “not true”.
The ordinance passed 5-2. Council members Steve Moss and Dick Morgan stood opposed to the ban.