City Of Pullman Wants To Regulate & Tax Short Term Rentals-Popular Local Side Hustle Uses Sites Like Airbnb

Years after it was first proposed the City of Pullman is now looking to regulate and tax a very popular local side hustle.

The city wants to regulate short-term rentals in a new draft zoning code update.  The short-term rental rules would apply to people renting their property through popular websites like Airbnb and Vrbo.  The side hustle has become very popular in Pullman especially on busy Washington State University weekends like home football games.  There are nearly 500 Pullman accommodations currently listed on Airbnb alone.

In early 2019 former City of Pullman Planner Pete Dickinson informed the city’s planning commission that these short-term rentals are illegal under city law.  The planning commission in March of that year asked the planning department to craft new laws to regulate short-term rentals.

The department has now drafted six pages of rules and regulations.  The proposal only allows for short-term rentals in a single-family home, duplex or accessory dwelling unit.  Only one rental is allowed on a single parcel.  If a property has an accessory dwelling unit then the ADU can only be rented.  The initial application for a short-term rental permit is 350 dollars and the rental must be renewed annually for 150 dollars.  The application will require a plot plan and a floor plan showing evacuation routes.  Applicants must tell the city which websites they are advertising their shot-term rentals.  Those online posts must include the city approved short-term rental endorsement permit number to prove they are legal.  They must verify that all taxes have been paid for the operation including lodging and business taxes.  Applicants must have a business license through the Washington State Department of Revenue.  The application period for a short-term rental will include a ten-day public comment period and if there is enough opposition it would be reviewed by the city’s hearing examiner.  Occupancy would be limited to a maximum of ten people in a rental.  The rules include parking limits and require that a local property manager be within a 30-minute drive of Pullman.  Contact information for that manager will be provided by the city to neighbors within 200 feet of the short-term rental.  The draft rules also require that the property pass an inspection to make sure it complies with all of the regulations.  Rentals are subject to re-inspection annually.

If the draft rules are adopted the first two violations within a year would lead to written warnings.  A third violation in a year and the short-term rental endorsement from the city would be revoked.

Since the issue was first brought to light five years ago, property owners who have followed current city law have obtained a Conditional Use Permit from the city’s hearing examiner.  Only a handful of short-term rentals in Pullman are legal with approved CUP’s.

Pullman city officials will be hosting public meetings to take citizen comments about the proposed regulations.  There will be eight meetings held in march.  The first is on March 11th.  You can find the list of meetings below and the proposed rules can be found here starting on page 217

Date Name Time Location
March 11, 2024 General Open House 9 a.m. – 11 a.m. Council Chambers, 190 SE Crestview Street Building A
March 11, 2024 Sunnyside Hill Open House 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. Sunnyside Elementary School, 425 SW Shirley Street
March 14, 2024 Pioneer Hill Open House 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. Council Chambers, 190 SE Crestview Street Building A
March 15, 2024 General Open House 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. Council Chambers, 190 SE Crestview Street Building A
March 18, 2024 College Hill Open House 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. Concordia Church, 1015 NE Orchard Drive
March 19, 2024 General Open House 8 p.m. – 10 p.m. Council Chambers, 190 SE Crestview Street Building A
March 21, 2024 Military Hill Open House 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. Pullman High School, 510 NW Greyhound Way
March 22, 2024 General Open House 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. Council Chambers, 190 SE Crestview Street Building A