Sheriff’s Department handling Short Term Rental violations

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by Richard Uhlhorn

The Chelan Leadership Response Team met via a teleconference yesterday, Thursday, April 9, to be updated by members of the team. The number of people invited to the meeting was reduced considerably including members of the press.

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Fire Chief Mark Donnell is handling the Leadership Response Team’s PIO duties and can be reached at 509-699-9762

Fire Chief Mark Donnell, as acting PIO, sent out a report on the meeting later in the evening. In attendance by telephone were: Sgt. Kent Sisson – Chelan County Emergency Management; Barry Kling – Chelan/Douglas County Health District; Sgt. Chris Foreman – Chelan County Sheriff’s Office; Kristi Morris – Columbia Valley Community Health; Kari Grover-Weir – USFS; Mike Steele – Lake Chelan Chamber; Debbie Conwell – Manson Chamber; Mayor Bob Goedde; Wade Ferris – Chelan City Administrator; Mike Fire Chief Mike Asher – Entiat CCDF #8; Assistant Fire Chief Brandon Asher – Chelan Fire & Rescue; and Fire Chief Mark Donnell – Chelan Fire.

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Mayor Goedde said the City of Chelan is relying on the Chelan County Sheriff’s Department to handle STR violations. 

In a telephone conversation with Mayor Goedde this morning regarding the Chelan County Declaration on Short Term Rentals (STR) he said, “We have no teeth.” As far as Mayor Goedde is concerned it is up to the Sheriff’s Department to deal with STRs that are out of compliance with the order. “We pay $1.4 million dollars a year for law enforcement,” said Goedde.

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Sgt Chris Foreman reported that his deputies are working hard to educate the public and owners of short term rentals before enforcing violators.

Sgt. Chris Foreman, Chelan’s law enforcement lead, he reported that his patrol officers are working more towards educating the public regarding essential businesses and the vacation rental declaration rather than enforcement.

Chelan County Sheriff’s Department has a dedicated telephone number for the community to report violators. It is 509.667.6985. One deputy has been assigned to this task.

Mayor Goedde is seeking clarification on owners of second homes and where they need to shelter in place. “If they are here, they need to shelter here, not drive back and forth, which I know they are doing,” stated Goedde.

With the three-day weekend in play because of Easter, it will be interesting to see how many people decide to travel to the community.

Kari Grover-Weir reported that the District is beginning to staff up for the upcoming fire season while working within the confinements mandating social distancing.

Chamber Director Mike Steele gave updates regarding unemployment benefits and the business community grant program. He said that over 200 businesses in Chelan County have applied. Steele also reported that he is looking at residential construction as an essential service and what the definition and guidelines for this would look like.

He also recommended adding the CEO from Chelan Fruit to the Response Team as a resource for working with growers in the area.

Fire Chief Mike Asher reported that he was working with the Chelan County Commissioners and Chelan County Fire Marshall Bob Plumb about the possibility to invoke a burn ban earlier this year (May 1).

On the Medical side Kristi Morris – Columbia Valley Health, stated that they currently have five positive cases and nine patients with results pending. Overall, Chelan-Douglas County Health reports that Chelan County has 45 positive cases.

Sgt. Ken Sisson – Emergency Management, restated his frustration from the inability to obtain PPE (personal protective equipment) through the State due to changing guidelines and a lack of coordinaton.

Chelan County has receive the needed ventilators and were able to send 40 of them back to the State due to lower than expected patient counts.

Sisson also said that the Sheriff’s Office is working with property owners regarding the recent declaration from the County regarding vacation rentals. The Sheriff’s department is using education strategies before implementing enforcement.

Barry Kling – C/D County Health told the team that information concerning the number of patients testing positive in the Chelan/Manson area could be found on their website at https//cdhd.wa.gov/covid-19/#case-count.

Kling offered to work with Christy Morris to reach out to the Okanogan County Health District to assist in infection control measures at packing sheds in Okanogan County.

He reiterated the importance of keeping social distancing processes in place. “We need to keep sending the message out to our community about staying home, maintaining social distancing, and practicing effective infection control,” he said.

Next week’s meeting will take place at 1 p.m. on Thursday, April 16 via conference call.

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