The issue of Airbnbs in Kirkland | Letter

The Kirkland City Council is in the process of adopting a set of ordinances that regulate the operation of Airbnbs within residential zoned areas of the city. The council really needs public input on the subject before making a final decision. It would be my hope that the Kirkland public would contact a city council member with their thoughts and views on airbnbs.

According to the City of Kirkland an Airbnb is a short-term rental (per KMC 7.02.030) of less than one month.

In my view Airbnbs impact residential zoned neighborhoods by creating: (1) transient populations, (2) additional neighborhood traffic and (3) additional vehicle parking congestion in the neighborhood.

In discussing Airbnbs, the topic seems to divide into two categories: (1) Cottage shop business operations and (2) Pseudo commercial business operations.

Cottage shop Airbnbs, I think, could be someone who lives in a house (the owner) and who rents out for money, short term, another section of their house. In my mind, a pseudo commercial Airbnb is one where the owner doesn’t reside on site. They might have multiple house Airbnb units spread throughout Kirkland, all in residential zoned areas. The pseudo commercial Airbnbs are competing directly with commercial motel and hotel operations in Kirkland without having to comply with commercial motel and hotel regulations.

In terms of requirements, it seems to me that a cottage shop Airbnb ought to have a business license and proof of insurance. On the other hand, a pseudo commercial Airbnb, I think, ought to meet the requirements of a commercial motel or hotel in Kirkland; that might be sprinkler systems, Kirkland Fire Department inspections, onsite parking and property managers that neighbors can contact.

I think the enforcement and monitoring of these Airbnbs should be managed by the City of Kirkland. Once the city accepts a revenue payment in the form of an Airbnb business license or whatever other fees that will be required, it becomes the city’s task to enforce. It would be extremely unfair to residential-zoned neighborhoods to expect them to monitor neighborhood Airbnbs, file complaints and provide proof documentation for the complaint.

I believe we have a great city council. I also believe that the City of Kirkland is a big enough municipality that we don’t have to look to Seattle, Edmonds or Redmond to create an Airbnb policy. Our city council is capable of formulating a policy if the Kirkland public provides them the input.

Please take the time to contact the Kirkland City Council with your thoughts about Airbnbs in residential zoned neighborhoods.

David Condon,

Kirkland

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