Licensing requirements for nightly rentals and a proposal to study water availability will be taken up by the Okanogan County Planning Commission at its December meeting.

Under the proposed changes to nightly rentals, all property owners wanting to rent a house or cabin to tourists for a short stay (under 30 days) will have to obtain an annual license and register as a business with the state for tax purposes.

The nightly rental also must be approved by Okanogan County Public Health for water and safety requirements, and by the Planning Department to be sure it complies with zoning regulations.

The proposed changes would also a requirement in the zoning code that affects a small number of nightly rentals in the Methow Valley that would have had to shut down by Jan. 1, 2021.

The planning commission will also discuss a proposed amendment to the county code that would allow the county commissioners to designate areas where certain land uses, including subdivision, would be curtailed to allow the county to study water availability.

The county would use the areas to do a detailed analysis of the water supply for domestic use from permit-exempt wells. The boundaries of any study areas will follow watershed basins or subbasins.

No specific areas have been defined and actual designation of the study areas will require an environmental review and public hearings.

The idea of studying water availability is one of Okanogan County’s response to a 2016 state Supreme Court decision known as Hirst, which requires anyone wanting to use a well for a new house to first prove there is enough water and that they have the legal right to use it.

The planning commissioners will also discuss proposed revisions to the county’s capital facility plan.

The public hearing is Monday, Dec. 4, at 7 p.m. in the commissioners’ auditorium in Okanogan. People can provide up to five minutes of verbal testimony or can submit written comments at the hearing or in advance to Roxanna King at