Bye Bye Beach Drive Bungalow

moonset_looking_back_at_houseWe thank all of our wonderful guest who stayed at the Bungalow over our short few years. Overall, we enjoyed our time as hosts at our beach home and have many wonderful memories that we will treasure.

Although we have reached out to HomeAway/VRBO/Expedia, AirBnB, Washington State Department of Ecology and, of course, the Seattle City Council – there still seems to be no progress with allowing waterfront homes to operate as vacation rentals in Seattle. The Council has delayed the process again with licensing – however, it’s still very uncertain.

This is from my last email with Margaret Glowacki, Sr. Land Use Planner with the City of Seattle:

“Thank you for your questions regarding short-term rentals in Seattle’s Shoreline District, which is the land within 200-ft of the water and the area both in and over water. SDCI has begun the process of our required Periodic Review of our Shoreline Master Program (SMP) regulations. We do not have a set timeline at this point, but I hope to have regulations over to the Mayor’s office for their review later this summer. We continue to evaluate possible changes to the SMP regulations. As such, we haven’t made any determination on changes, including the changes you highlight regarding short-term rental use, and where it might be allowed. Additionally, Seattle purposely considers this type of use a lodging use in the Shoreline District. 

The SMP regulations are an important part of state and local laws. These regulations are mandated by the State’s Shoreline Management Act (SMA) and the regulations are implemented through SMPs at the local level. The main goals of the SMA and SMP are to provide for areas of our shorelines to be used for water dependent uses and for areas to be used for public access and to protect the aquatic environment. As you can imagine providing for these three main goals can be challenging because of the potential conflicts, particularly in an urbanized environment. Our shorelines are a finite resource and the state and local jurisdictions including Seattle, are responsible for their protection.”

We are fortunate that a friend of ours has asked to buy the home. We actually met because she also has a Flat Coated Retriever, like our Hitch. We feel lucky, especially considering how close our homes are, that we have a nice neighbor. We joke that we now have a “Flat Coat Compound”.  We are also in the process of selling a lot of the furnishings that were in the Bungalow.

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Hopefully the City of Seattle can figure this out for other waterfront vacation rentals. I’m afraid I don’t have a lot of faith in our current elected officials.

Again, a big heartfelt thank you to our many wonderful guest at Beach Drive Bungalow.

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Still fighting for Seattle Waterfront Vacation Homes

Although the law has gone into effect that bans waterfront homes and homes within 200 feet of water from operating as vacation rentals (aka short term rentals or STRs), my husband and I are still trying to get this unintended consequence corrected.

In my last post, I shared that we were going to reach out to the Washington State Department of Ecology as advised by a representative for City of Seattle Councilmember Mike O’Brien to see if an exception could be made.  Rob had a great conversation with a Ms. Blair who acts as the Regional Shoreline Planning & Permitting staff for the Seattle region. She agreed on the phone that there is no increased impact on the shoreline with STRs vs long term rentals. She also mentioned that Seattle was currently involved in the Shoreline Master Program Periodic Review which could be great timing for a variance to be approved. She pointed out that Whatcom County has been given conditional approval by the state to consider STR use as a “Residential” use code specifically for shoreline management zones. We were obviously pretty excited to hear this!

My husband, Rob then had a conversation with Policy Analyst, Aly Penucci. She seemed happy to hear that Whatcom County has already set the ground work if Seattle decides to take the same steps. She recommended that we reach out to the City of Seattle Councilmembers in order to have them take this issue up.

We first reached out to Councilmember Herbold’s office (as she represents West Seattle) and was referred to someone on her staff. We sent him a very detailed email and have tried leaving voicemails. We have yet to receive a response.  Despite this lack of response, we sent out another round of emails to catch the Councilmembers up to date on what we have learned with Whatcom County allowing short term rentals by working with the Department of Ecology. Again, the only response has been from the office of Council Mike O’Brien. Essentially, we’re being told that they would like another Councilmember to take up this issue and they will support it.

We know in this day, there are a lot of very important and critical issues going on. Our city is dealing with a affordable housing, homeless and opiod crisis, along with all the other issues that follow.  The new licensing fees that are being assessed to Seattle Short Term Rental properties are in part, going towards affordable housing. People we have talked to at the City of Seattle have admitted to having no idea as to how many homes will no longer be able to operate as a short term rental and therefore, they have NO idea how much funds they will be losing when folks like us are not able to operate as a STR and therefore contribute to the affordable housing funds. In addition, many who own and operate vacation homes depend on the income and employ others, such as housekeepers, who also depend on this income. West Seattle does not have real lodging beyond short term rentals and this regulation just wiped out many of the prime properties.

We have also reached out to HomeAway/VRBO, which is the platform we have used, to try to make them aware of this. So far, it’s been challenging at best. They are aware of having to acquire the new license but not the waterfront (or 200 feet within water) issues.

Others who own and operate waterfront vacation homes in Seattle will not learn about this until either they apply for their STR operators license and are rejected (city is saying this will take several weeks to start the process) or unless the call the City to confirm their zoning.

If you or your family member lives in Seattle and have stayed in our vacation rental or any Seattle waterfront-water view vacation rental, I ask that you please contact the Seattle City Councilmembers and tell them your story and what staying in the Bungalow meant to you.  The more voices they hear will hopefully help this cause.

Thank you for your support!

Sad News: City of Seattle no longer allowing waterfront vacation rentals

Recently we discovered that vacation rentals located on (or near) Puget Sound will no longer be permitted to operate.  New regulations are going into effect January 1, 2019. This is being blamed on zoning with the Shoreline Management Act that basically does not allow for “commercial lodging” near the water.  It appears as though homes on the waterfront being disallowed to be a vacation rental is an unintended consequence of the regulations labeling short term rentals as “commercial lodging” where before the regulation, short term vacation rentals were “unclassified”. The regulations are filled with irony and although the City of Seattle has bent over for some, they don’t appear to be budging for those of us with waterfront vacation homes.

We have been following the creation of the legislation since 2016 when Seattle’s City Council started tackling the issue of short term rentals (aka vacation rentals). Vacation rentals were being blamed for the lack of affordable housing and for reducing potential long term rentals. My husband and I attended council meetings to share our opinions to make sure our voices were heard. We have always been for regulations of short term rentals. Apartments should not be allowed to be short term rentals as they were created to be long-term rentals and condos (high density homes) should be limited – this is what was originally intended for the regulations….however, it does not appear these issues were addressed.

We have reached out to Homeaway/VRBO and AirBnb but have not had a real response from them. When we contacted the city a few months ago, they actually seemed unprepared to deal with this issue. It seems they have no idea how many homes this will impact. I reached out to our City Council a couple weeks ago and today I received a response from a Representative from ONE of our council members.

Thanks so much for reaching out to Councilmember O’Brien on this issue.  I am sorry for the complicated and confusing nature of our code and that your property is no longer eligible as a STR.  After looking into it a bit, my understanding is that this is due to the shoreline code – lodging activities are prohibited in Floating on-water residences, waterfront residences, and in specific shoreline environments.  This was not a policy choice about waterfront locations specifically but rather just making it explicit that defining short-term rentals as a lodging use (and not a residential use) means prohibiting STRs where lodging uses are prohibited by the shoreline code.   To modify this would require amending the shoreline code which typically requires working with and approval by the Department of Ecology.

Sorry to not have a more hopeful response for you.  Have you considered renting the property as a long-term rental?

The home will not become a long term rental as we want flexibility for when our kids are in town and Seattle’s current laws for long term rentals are too onerous.

We cannot express how much we enjoyed the many wonderful guests who stayed at the Bungalow. We’re so proud of our 67 five star reviews 🙂 and all we poured into the home to offer a comfortable stay for our guests. Our neighbors welcomed the Bungalow and often reserved it for their families. Our guests have had far less environmental impact on the sound than any long term renter or owner would simply based on the home not being occupied year round.

We do plan on reaching out to the Department of Ecology to see what our options are…if any. We just want to let you know that for now, the home is off the market as a vacation rental. We do hope we’re able to get this changed soon.

Stay tuned!

Pair of Bald Eagles


This rock with the pair of eagles is actually right in front of the Bungalow not far from the bulkhead – seawall. It’s not unusual to see bald eagles along the shore or up in large tree to the north of the Bungalow.

No binoculars needed to spy these big beauties!

The Mountains are Out

I’m not sure if this just is a local saying… when the Olympics are in view, it’s not unusual to hear “the mountains are out”.

Although I have lived in the greater Seattle area most of my life, it kind of makes me giggle when I hear “the mountains are out”… as if they go away when they are not in view. This saying is not limited to the Olympics, which you can see from the Bungalow when “the mountains are out”, we also say this when we can see Mount Rainier, Mount Baker or even the Cascades.

Here are a couple more photos of the Olympics from the Puget Sound side of the Bungalow.

 

This surreal photo was taken just the other day.

Boats and wildlife are also part of the scene!

NOTE: You cannot view Mount Rainier from the Bungalow, however a short walk (or drive) to Constellation Park towards Alki Point will permit you to see this majestic mountain… if it’s out!

The bedrooms at the Bungalow have at least view of Puget Sound, as does the living room area. It’s really just a great spot to hang out and enjoy the views. Book your stay at Beach Drive Bungalow today!

Look what landed next door!

Yesterday morning, we saw an unusual sight. A Bald Eagle perched on the fence directly next door to the Bungalow!

It is not at all unusual to hear or see Bald Eagles as they really enjoy to hang out at a tall tree a couple houses to the north of Beach Drive Bungalow. If you hear a constant chirp, typically in the morning, you could venture out to the bulkhead and most likely see one or two eagles in the tree. However, this is the first time we have ever seen one sitting on a fence so close to home. The “AYC Alki Yacht Club” life ring is a part of Beach Drive Bungalow’s property.

Where to rent kayaks, paddle boards and bikes in West Seattle

Being located on the Puget Sound, there are plenty of scenic activities available for your enjoyment while staying at Beach Drive Bungalow. Here are a few places that offer rentals and tours:

Alki Kayak Tours with rentals for kayaks, stand up paddle boards, inline skates, bikes and skateboards (long boards). West Seattle Location: 1660 Harbor Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98126 • (206) 953-0237 | tours@kayakalki.com

Be sure to grab a bite at Marination Ma Kai, located next door to Alki Kayak Tours.

Mountain to Sound Outfitters has kayaks, stand up paddle boards and skateboards for rent during the summer at 55th and Alki Avenue.  Monday-Sunday | 12:00pm – 6:00pm.  Weather Dependent, Call 206-935-7669.

Wheel Fun Rentals offers various types of bikes and surreys for rentals at 2530 Alki Avenue SW.

Alki Bike and Board has various types of bikes for rent. (I’m checking with them and will update this post once I find out if they rent on somewhere on Alki or if you have to go to their North Admiral location on California).

PS: Although Beach Drive Bungalow is waterfront and located on Puget Sound, it does not have beach access due to the seawall/bulkhead. The Bungalow is located a couple blocks away from public parks with access to the sound.

 

 


The “back yard” of the Bungalow.