Homeowners who hope to turn a buck by renting out their house to vacationers will need to convince their neighbors that it’s a good idea.
That’s because the latest turn of events at City Hall this week banned all new short-term rentals across the city unless 75% of property owners in a neighborhood are on board with it and the City Council agrees to create a special district called an overlay. Sandbridge is currently the only exception.
Homes that were permitted by the city for short-term rentals prior to July 13 can continue to operate.
Supporters of short-term rentals have formed a coalition and warn that the ban will force people to rent their homes without city approval.
At the Oceanfront, residents in Old Beach and the North End have expressed concerns about developers turning single-family homes into short-term vacation destinations.
“It’s a major game changer for a residential neighborhood when they become overwhelmed with these,” said Nancy Parker, past president of the Resort Beach Civic League. “In a regular neighborhood, we understand each other. Some of these people, they see it as a place where they can let their hair down. It’s just a different philosophy; a different mind set.”
She’s grateful the City Council has made an effort to protect residential areas.
Vice Mayor Jim Wood said obtaining 75% support for short-term rentals will be “a tough nut to crack,” and runs the risk of “pitting neighbors against neighbors.”
“Going forward, we will probably have some people who disagree with that process and will ask to make changes, and we will have to react to that,” Wood said. “I don’t think it’s over.”
Here is the current status of short-term rentals and what’s next, according to the city.
Short-term rentals are homes that are rented for less than 30 consecutive days. The homes can be rented privately or through platforms such as Airbnb or Vrbo.
In 2019, the city rolled out regulations to ensure each property limited the number of guests and had adequate parking.
The city previously allowed residents and real estate companies across the city to apply to have short-term rental properties. Each permit was considered individually by the Planning Commission and the City Council.
On July 6, the City Council denied overlay districts for the North End and Oceanfront Resort District, prohibiting new short-term rentals there.
On July 13, the City Council banned all new short-term rentals unless neighborhoods petition to become an overlay district, which would require the signatures of 75% of property owners. Only one signature per property will be counted.
On Sept. 7, the City Council will resurrect its vote on creating a by-right overlay district in the Oceanfront Resort, which means the 75% rule would not apply. The boundaries do not include Old Beach or Shadowlawn. Two rental contracts per 7-day period would be allowed.
Also on Sept. 7, the council will vote on additional safety requirements for short-term rentals related to smoke alarms and structural inspections.
Stacy Parker, 757-222-5125, firstname.lastname@example.org