Chelan County’s new STR code goes into effect next year

information released by Chelan County

Chelan County Community Development is preparing to begin accepting applications from existing short-term rental operators on Sept. 27. The application process will be open through Dec. 31 for those looking to be grandfathered into the new code.

“We’ve created a new application, a variety of helpful forms and a website to help people through this process. We also are preparing staff on what to expect and how to accept those applications,” said Jim Brown, director of Community Development. “We are expecting hundreds of applications between Sept. 27 and the end of the year.”

In July, Chelan County commissioners passed a new code, Chapter 11.88, that establishes the operating standards of the county’s short-term rental industry, which has seen rapid growth in most recent years. The code comes after more than two years of board and community discussions.

The county estimates there are up to 1,500 known rental units in Chelan County. Most are single-family homes being used as short-term rentals.

Through the end of the year, all existing short-term rental operators will be afforded the opportunity to apply to be grandfathered in, as long as they are able to answer “yes” to all of the following questions:

  • Was your location used for short-term rental purposes between July 28, 2019, and August 25, 2020?
  • Can you prove you received short-term rental revenue during that time?
  • Can you prove sales and lodging taxes were fully paid for all short-term rental use during that time?

If owners cannot answer yes to all of the above questions, they must apply as a new short-term rental. That application process opens Dec. 1 and runs through July 29. Operators of new short-term rentals can visit the county website and begin their applications at this time; however, applications will not be accepted until Dec. 1.

For existing short-term rental applicants, a provisional permitting process is being used for the 2021 and 2022 permitting years because of the large volume of applications expected. Upon turning in their applications and paying their fees, applicants will be issued a provisional permit, giving Community Development time to review the application and determine if a final permit will be issued, or if an issue needs to be corrected prior to issuance of the final permit.

“It may take several months to review your application,” said Kirsten Ryles, manager of the Community Development’s newly created Short-Term Rental Division. “But we will get to all of them as quickly as possible.”

Existing short-term rental operators are asked to keep in mind:

  • Because of the high number of applications expected, the department highly encourages people to download the application and complete it at home. Then turn the application and its attachments in to If submitted electronically, staff will reach out to you regarding payment. However, applicants also can turn applications in at Community Development, 316 Washington St., suite 301, in Wenatchee.
  • Applicants also are encouraged to visit the county’s short-term rental website, where they will find not only the application but also checklists of necessary items for submission, a fee schedule, submission date deadlines, and other materials to help them through the process.
  • For a short-term rental to maintain its existing, non-conforming status, owners will need to apply for both the remainder of 2021 as well as 2022. To make this process easier, they can apply for both years on their first application.
  • If existing operators miss the Dec. 31 deadline, they will need to apply as a new short-term rental. The new code sets caps on the number of short-term rentals that can operate in different parts of the county.

“We started working on these new application processes immediately after the short-term rental code was passed,” Ryles said. “We’re excited to be opening up the application process, but we ask that the public be patient. With hundreds of applications expected in the next three months, this will be like nothing Community Development has ever experienced.”

For more information, visit the Community Development website: The short-term rental code also is available online.