Mandatory composting, short-term rentals on May 16 BI agenda

The Bainbridge Island City Council will discuss mandatory composting, regulations for short-term rentals and receive a report on the city’s Emergency Management at the May 16 meeting at 6 p.m. at City Hall and on Zoom.

A 2022 state law requires cities and counties to implement composting by Jan. 1 of this year. The goal is to divert organic materials from landfills and change it to productive uses. The city would identify if compost can be used for projects such as landscaping, construction, erosion prevention, stormwater runoff, to filter pollutants and more.

The city would not have to use compost if none is available within a reasonable distance or amount of time or if the price is unreasonable. Other reasons it would not be required include not complying with city standards or federal, state or local health quality and safety concerns.

When procuring compost, priority would be given to local or nationally certified product.

The city must provide technical assistance and education regarding use of food and yard waste compost; measure and report the number of tons of organic material diverted throughout the year; and report the volume, cost and source of compost to the state Department of Ecology every even-numbered year.

Short-term rentals

The city says in its council agenda for this evening that regulating short-term rentals would bring many benefits to BI.

Those include: prevent loss of rental housing stock; preserve neighhborhoods; capture tax revenue; provide economic gain for residents; support tourism in a balanced way; ensure health and safety of guests and residents; prevent competition with traditional lodging establishments, such as hotels, motels, inns and bed and breakfasts; balance the needs and rights of property owners; and to slow and prevent the proliferation of short-term rentals.

The city says it is missing out on lodging tax revenue that can support downtown, encourage tourism and repay bonds.

Short-term rentals are for 30 days or less. The city does not regulate them, although the BI affordable housing task force in 2018 recommended limits to their use. A survey in 2021 says 66% of residents favor regulating no-host occupied rentals.

Changes could require: A state business license for $12,000; a city business license for $3,000; Business and Occupation tax returns for both the state and city; a monthly lodging tax to the state; $1 million in liability insurance; and collection of sales taxes.

Estimates for such vacation rentals range from 180 to 340, with most in Winslow, Fletcher Bay and along the Elliott Bay shoreline. Only 100 have city business licenses.

There have been few noise complaints but there have been trash pickup and community degradation complaints.

Emergency Management

Finally, Anne LeSage, coordinator, will give an update.

Its role is to prepare for emergencies, including roles of supporting agencies. It would set up an Emergency Operation Center to support city operations during an emergency.

Its five main tasks are: Coordination, decision-making, operations, information gathering and dispersing public information. The three levels of activation are minor, major and catastrophic events.