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Group forms to support legal STRs

by BILL BULEY
Staff Writer | September 9, 2022 1:08 AM

COEUR d’ALENE — The CDA-Vacation Rental Alliance recently formed in response to the city’s plans to crack down on short-term rentals.

“Help us support our community with rules and regulations that will truly impact the quality of life in our beautiful town,” said a letter recently distributed in the Sanders Beach neighborhood.

The private group had 67 members on Facebook as of Thursday.

It says there are less than 400 permitted STRs in Coeur d’Alene.

“Properly permitted STRs make huge contributions to the local economy by providing additional lodging options to visitors, paying hospitality taxes, supporting patronage to local businesses and restaurants, and maintaining hundreds of local jobs for cleaners, property maintenance, laundry services and many others,” according to the letter.

It goes on to state that nonpermitted STRs in Coeur d’Alene are estimated to be from 500 to 1,000.

“These properties should be the focus for enforcement to improve neighborhood integrity in the Downtown/Midtown CDA area,” the letter states.

One half of the city of Coeur d'Alene's General Services/Public Works Committee — Amy Evans, Dan English and Christie Wood — is scheduled to hear the city’s proposals for getting tougher with STRs when it meets at noon Monday in the Library Community Room.

Council members Woody McEvers, Kiki Miller and Dan Gookin heard the tentative plans Aug. 22.

Senior planner Sean Holm told them that in August 2021 the city had 228 STRs. Today, it has 381 permitted STRs in the city, with most south of Interstate 90 near downtown and with some blocks having several STRs.

It’s estimated there are about 700 unpermitted, illegal STRs, which means the city could have more than 1,000 STRs.

“We have received some complaints over the year,” Holm said.

The problems associated with STRs are many.

Short-term rentals have been blamed for driving up housing costs by reducing long-term rentals, thus driving out blue-collar workers and leaving businesses with unfilled jobs.

Others cite issues with noise, parking and say it is impacting the integrity of their neighborhoods.

“It’s affecting everything,” said Councilwoman Kiki Miller.

Solutions being considered include:

• Limiting short-term rentals to owner-occupied properties within residential zones.

• Requiring off-street parking.

• Requiring a minimum two-night stay.

• Increasing the violation fees.

• Hiring a company to enforce compliance with the new STRs rules.

“We just don’t have the ability to do this, nor do we have the technology to be able to track all the sites to see which properties in the city have the short-term rentals," said Community Planning Director Hilary Anderson.

She said the city took a “light touch” approach when it adopted an STR ordinance in 2017.

Gookin said there needs to be “aggressive enforcement” if the new rules go into effect.

Anderson said requiring STR properties to be owner-occupied would be a “critical step” in the possess.

City Attorney Randy Adams said the city is on solid legal ground in establishing STR laws.

“We need to articulate the reason we’re doing any of these particular regulations and then I think we’re in a defensible area," he said.

The next steps in the process, after Monday’s committee hearing, include stakeholder outreach, workshops and public hearings, with a goal to have a new ordinance by January.

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Dan English

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Wood