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Newest Airbnb proposal would limit vacation rentals to primary homes

Seattle leaders have scrapped their proposed regulations on Airbnb and other vacation rentals. City Council member Tim Burgess revealed a new plan during a Wednesday committee meeting.


Burgess has cited the shrinking housing supply as the reason for wanting to regulate vacation rentals.

Under his newest proposal, people could rent out their primary home to travelers, but could not rent out a secondary home, like a house or condo they don't live in. The only exception is owners who already rent out a secondary unit — they could continue for 10 more years.

The old proposal would have let people rent out a secondary home, but only for a certain number of nights. That idea was dropped because of concerns about enforcement.

At the meeting, attorney Courtney Kayler questioned whether it's legal to adopt a rule that doesn't fully take effect for 10 years. She represents Sea to Sky Rentals. She also criticized the intent of the bill.

Kayler: "There is no evidence that the proposal will benefit housing affordability. We ask that you work cooperatively with short term rental owners and operators to reach a solution that will benefit affordable housing."

The Seattle Short Term Rental Alliance, Airbnb, HomeAway, and other organizations are also against the regulations.

Others testified that they would face a financial loss by eventually having to sell their secondary unit, because they couldn't afford it without renting it to travelers.

Belltown resident Kate Starbird wants regulations because she says her building has been taken over by weekend guests and partyers. But she testified the new proposal is not the answer.

Starbird: "The proposed changes to the regulations which allow amnesty to certain owners, they may be a worst case scenario for us ... as they, the people who have been exploiting our community, can keep doing it. In fact, they will have a corner on the market."

The council committee and full council will still need to vote on the proposal.

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