Brier bans Airbnb-style rentals to retain residential flavor

A new ordinance adds short-term rentals to prohibited property uses, like gambling and nude dancing.

BRIER — The city of Brier brands itself as a residential community.

And now, strangers are less likely to be crashing here after football games or a cousin’s graduation.

Brier and Woodway appear to be the first two towns in Snohomish County to ban homeowners from offering short-term rentals through companies such as Airbnb and Vrbo. Most local cities don’t have specific rules on that front, though some point to other guidelines such as business licensing.

Several jurisdictions, including Darrington and Snohomish, are taking a look at potential policies, though.

Airbnb, Vrbo and other firms act as online booking agents for homeowners to make extra income by renting rooms, apartments and houses. For guests, it promises a different experience from a hotel or a friend’s couch. The offerings are particularly popular in destination cities, like those close to ski slopes.

Brier’s council passed the ban in December, and it went into effect later that month.

“We are pretty sensitive to our constituents’ needs,” said Paula Swisher, the city clerk and treasurer. “They live in single-family residential neighborhoods. That’s what they want.”

Brier is home to about 6,600 people and a cluster of businesses on a single block.

The city’s attorney brought up the rentals a while back, saying other towns were seeing issues crop up. At that point, though, it hadn’t come up locally, Swisher said.

But last year, they started getting calls.

People were reporting problems with noise and parking at neighboring properties, Swisher said. Then someone asked City Hall about buying a home strictly for short-term rentals — meaning they wouldn’t live there. It appeared from online research that others already had gone that way, she said.

In those cases, “there was no one being responsible on-site that a neighbor could go to,” Swisher said.

The new ordinance added short-term rentals to prohibited uses. Other items on that list include gambling, nude dancing and adult videos. The legislation does not affect people who lease out their homes on a monthly or annual basis.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @rikkiking.

Around the county

Rules about short-term rentals. Note, that sometimes they may be covered by other regulations, such as those around business licensing or the definitions of home occupancy.

Arlington: No specific policies.

Bothell: No specific policies.

Brier: Not allowed.

Darrington: The planning department is discussing.

Edmonds: No specific policies but there are some for bed-and-breakfast accommodations.

Everett: No specific policies.

Gold Bar: No specific policies.

Granite Falls: No specific policies.

Index: Some rules around the water rates.

Lake Stevens: No specific policies.

Lynnwood: No specific policies.

Marysville: No specific policies.

Mill Creek: No specific policies.

Monroe: No specific policies.

Mountlake Terrace: No specific policies.

Mukilteo: Hasn’t come up, outside of business license questions.

Tulalip: Tribal officials did not respond to an inquiry.

Snohomish: The Planning Commission expects to discuss it this year.

Stanwood: No specific policies.

Sultan: No specific policies.

Woodway: Not allowed. (Woodway only has residential zoning.)

Snohomish County: No specific policies.

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