ILWACO, Wash. — City leaders have turned a unanimous thumbs down to a short-term rental house in the community’s most exclusive neighborhood.
The application for a conditional-use permit from Lindsay Yamane at 2144 Reservoir Road was rejected Monday.
The decision came after the City Council reviewed letters from several residents who were against the permit.
City Councilor Jared Oakes said the permit should be rejected, but the application raised broader questions of where such rentals fit into their vision of the community.
He urged city leaders to schedule that debate. Councilor Missy Bageant agreed, saying the council needed a discussion that went beyond one single application.
The project divided people in the Sahalee and adjoining Discovery Heights neighborhoods. Councilor Kristen Mathisen excused herself from the discussion and vote because as a neighbor she signed a letter saying she had no objections to the rental just before she became a council member.
Yamane was the sole speaker in favor Monday. Earlier this year, he bought the three-bedroom house near his own home on Reservoir Road for $285,000. He has described how the vacation rental would be efficiently run by Vacasa, an international rentals company, with an on-call representative in Astoria in case problems arose.
“We fell in love with Ilwaco and want others to enjoy that opportunity,” he said. “We don’t have a ‘party house.’ We have too much of an investment into the property.”
He said Ilwaco has approved other conditional-use permits in residential zones. “If there’s a violation, you can pull our permit.”
Yamane said he works for a Seattle company and has his own construction company based in Ilwaco, plus a small engineering consulting firm. He said he lived in Ilwaco about one third of his time; his wife. Shelley, operates a hair salon in Portland. “We have plans to be here a long time,” he said.
City Planner Sam Rubin had recommended approval of the permit, subject to conditions about issues like fire safety, parking and trash collection. He reported that a rental, with a maximum occupancy of eight, would not increase traffic in the neighborhood.
Earlier this month, after a lengthy discussion, the Planning Commission split 3-2 in favor of recommending approval.
Councilor Fred Marshall questioned whether planners had adequately examined Rubin’s findings point by point, especially whether the business would be detrimental to neighbors.
Commissioner Jackie Sheldon assured him they had — in considerable detail. Sheldon was one of the two commissioners who had voted against the permit, saying earlier that such a business was incompatible with a residential neighborhood.
When Marshall pressed repeatedly for exact details, he was cut off by Mayor Gary Forner. “The Planning Commission did their job to the best of their ability,” the mayor said. “I believe you are out of line.”
Paul Niemi, head of the Discovery Heights homeowners group, said residents feared noise from vacationing renters would have a detrimental effect. “While the Yamanes are wonderful people, I think it changes the use of the neighborhood and the future uses of the neighborhood,” he said.