Chelan County hits emergency brake on short-term rentals

Chelan County Commissioners Doug England, Kevin Overbay and Bob Bugert.

WENATCHEE — Chelan County commissioners took steps Monday to shut down short-term vacation rental operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The county’s emergency order, passed unanimously by all three commissioners, applies to both short-term rentals listed through Airbnb, VRBO and other sources; and private campgrounds, unless they’re being used by essential personnel.

Commissioners said they’ve seen an influx of visitors from more densely populated counties since the coronavirus outbreak, and the traffic conflicts with Gov. Jay Inslee’s emergency ban on non-essential travel.

Short-term rentals are defined as lease agreements of less than 30 days. The new restriction applies in unincorporated areas of the county. Any property owner violating the ban risks a fine of $500 per day, enforced by the Chelan County sheriff.

Incorporated cities like Leavenworth and Chelan have their own ordinances on short-term rentals, requiring licenses or conditional use permits.