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!

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Do you need a car to stay at Beach Drive Bungalow?

2006-07-30-12-01-21Every so often, we have a potential guest ask us if they need to have a car to stay at Beach Drive Bungalow. The short answer is that you don’t need a car to stay at Beach Drive Bungalow once you have arrived, as long as you don’t mind walking, taking a bus or hiring a driver (like Uber or a taxi).

You can order groceries to be delivered to the Bungalow from PCC Market, Amazon or Safeway. We provide coffee and tea for the first morning.

The closest restaurant is LaRustica. This is a small, upscale Italian restaurant that will also provide your meal to go. It’s just a few blocks away from the Bungalow. There are also several aps you can use to order food to be delivered to you at the bungalow.

30 minutes away on foot…give or take… 

The walk to Alki Beach along the waterfront is flat. Along the way, you can see the Alki Point Lighthouse (open on weekends during the summer) and the “blue glass house”.  Alki has a sandy beach, several restaurants and fun things to do.

Walk to Alki Point (just past the light house) to catch the Dart Shuttle. This small bus will take you to Seacrest Park where you can catch a water taxi (foot ferry) to take you to Seattle. Or you can remain on the Dart Shuttle for a ride to the Junction.

If you don’t mind walking up some hills (some may be considered a little steep), the Junction offers several restaurants and shops. On Sundays, there is a farmers market with fresh produce, meats, flowers…today, we grabbed fresh oysters to cook up for dinner back home!  There is a QFC and Safeway located in the Junction for groceries too.

The Junction also has a metro hub where you can catch buses to take you to downtown Seattle.

There is a commuter Metro bus line (route 37) with several stops along Beach Drive. This will take you to downtown Seattle – however, since it’s a commuter line only – it only runs during work commute times.

You can also walk about 30 minutes or so south along the water to reach scenic Lincoln Park. Lincoln Park has a salt water swimming pool that is open during the summer.  Another 15 minutes walking will bring you to the Fauntleroy Ferry dock…which takes you to Vashon Island. You can catch a bus from the ferry dock which will take you to town.

So just to sum up, you can absolutely stay at the bungalow without having a car. There is plenty to do and see nearby and you can always nab a taxi, if needed.

If you have any questions about staying at the bungalow, please let us know!