ILWACO — A couple has filed a lawsuit against the city of Ilwaco, after being denied a vacation rental permit.
In March 2018, Lindsay and Shelley Yamane applied for a conditional-use permit for a house at 2144 Reservoir Road, which is near their residence on the same block in the city’s Sahalee subdivision above Baker Bay. The city council unanimously rejected the application in May.
The council denied the application because it found the Yamanes didn’t prove that the vacation rental wouldn’t cause problems for neighbors; one of the requirements for conditional use permits in Ilwaco.
City Planner Sam Rubin and the Ilwaco Planning Commission recommended approval of the permit after review. However, at a public hearing, citizens voiced disapproval of the permit. Changes were made to the permit based on public concerns. Rubin and the commission approved the permit a second time after the changes were made.
The Yamanes allege the city did not adhere to city code. The lawsuit claims the council violated the Yamanes’ right to due process, meaning fair treatment through the judicial system.
The Yamanes also allege that former council member Fred Marshall, who resigned from his position in June, “pre-decided” the case before the application hearing.
Marshall allegedly communicated with citizens who were opposed to the permit before the council hearing on the project. He also brought a memo to council members which suggested specific language that could be used to deny the Yamanes’ application, according to the lawsuit.
The Yamanes’ application resulted in a multitude of reactions from neighbors and other community members. Some were vocally opposed, while others signed statements of support for the conditional-use permit.
Among other things, opponents worried that the vacation house might cause a shortage of parking spaces, or lead to a slew of new vacation rentals in the area.
Among those opposing the permit are residents of Ilwaco’s Discovery Heights gated subdivision, which borders Sahalee to the south. Discovery Heights was developed by a partnership that includes Marshall’s brother, Rich. Owners of individual homes in Discovery Heights have expressed concern about vacationers wandering through the subdivision to access the nearby Beards Hollow portion of Cape Disappointment State Park.
The proposed rental property, which can accommodate up to eight people, would be run by the international rentals company Vacasa.
The lawsuit states that some of the individuals who spoke against the vacation rental live outside the immediate vicinity. It also notes that only the Yamanes and their neighbor can park on their property, so no one else would be affected by guests parking there.
The Yamanes and the city of Ilwaco are in the process of determining whether the lawsuit should proceed in Pacific County Superior Court, or the federal U.S. District Court in Tacoma.