One Citizen’s Comment about Short Term Rentals and City Planning Director’s Response

10 Apr One Citizen’s Comment about Short Term Rentals and City Planning Director’s Response

This week the City Council in our Work Session will again discuss recommendations of the Short Term Rental Task Force before we develop potential ordinance changes. We have heard from a lot of individuals, some for and others against stricter management or control of Short Term Rentals.   Let us know you thoughts if you have not already done so.  If during the meeting we do not respond to each comment, please do not take it personally.  Just know that we are listening and over the course of several meetings have been responding to each comment.

A — no need to be named — citizen submitted comments to City Council after reading the Short Term Rental Task Force Report and his questions are answered (in red) by City Planning Director Libby Anderson.

Mrs. Anderson,

Thanks for the opportunity to comment on the final report, “Short Term Rental Task Force Final Report”. Overall, I find it a fair and balanced report. We have operated a short term rental from our vacation home at 1203 King St since 2013 and find that the report recognizes many of the positive facets which we have experienced first hand.

A general comment: There seems to be within some circles, the perception that guests at short term rentals are of a lower quality and less civil than the general surrounding population, resulting in a number of adverse impacts. I am baffled by this perception, which, in my experience over 4 years, has no basis in reality. This concern comes out in the report at the top of page 5. In general, the report does a good job in de-bunking the misconception, which I appreciate.

A few general questions/ concerns related to the recommendations:
(a) an 8% cap – it is difficult to discern from description of the investigations why that particular percentage is recommended. It may be appropriate or inappropriate, but there is no rationale.
(b) Permitting and approvals – I am glad to see that a process is recommended (ZBOA review) once a cap is reached. I recommend that the City maintain an on-going review of the appropriateness of the cap. In some cases, it may be too low.
(c) Other requirements – Overall, I agree with these requirements except #4, i.e., number of persons per bedroom (page 7 of 9). I remember fondly family vacations when my children were small where all the boys pilled into one bedroom and girls into another. It was a great bonding event. My suggestion is to let the market and families determine this issue.

Some specific questions:
(1) page 2 of 9 lists a number of issues related to community concerns – how were these concerns discovered and “vetted” before being incorporated into the investigation. These concerns came from comments raised at Zoning Board of Appeals meetings, at Short Term Task Force meetings, and from a review of the literature.
(2) These concerns are listed in a different order than discussed later in the report, making it difficult to determine if all were fully addressed. For example, there is no discussion of parking as a problem
(3) In paragraph “Investigations”, I recommend that staff also monitor TripAdvisor/ Flipkey, although the report is correct that Homeaway-VRBO generates most of the bookings (at least in our case).
(4) on page 3, in the first paragraph under Units, please recheck the numbers, which don’t seem to add up. Also, these numbers are over 11 months old, so more current data would be useful. Some properties have more than one short term rental, so there is a difference between the “location” of short term rental units and the total number of units. Sometime after April 15, which is the date for renewal for business licenses for 2017, will we prepared an updated list of short term rentals in the City.
(5) Also in this section, it could be useful to include the total number of residence in the City to allow a rough percentage evaluation. We have information on the number of lots zoned residential in the neighborhoods where the 8% cap may become an issue in the near future. For example. the Old Commons neighborhood has 109 lots zoned residential. Pigeon Point has 396 lots zoned residential. The Bluff has 33 residential lots.
(6) Last paragraph on page 3 addresses occupancy rates. I would be glad to share occupancy rates from my place. However that data can be estimated by review of website booking calendars.
(7) page 4 – table should include current percentages to allow one to evaluate versus the proposed cap.
(8) Economic Impact, 1st paragraph – I agree with the conclusion in this paragraph. It would be informative to state the percentage of residences which are owner-occupied, leased and empty. We have information on owner-occupied structures, since these are assessed at the 4% ratio. Non-owner occupied units are more difficult to assess. Some of these are renter-occupied, some are 2nd homes, some are vacant, and some are vacant and for sale.
(9) Also, in this section, it would be informative to state the amount of tax revenues (both at City and State levels) by STR properties. That amount should include property and business taxes, as well as accommodation taxes. The general population is probably not aware. Perhaps the Business License Office can provide us a number. I will check with them.

I hope you will be able to submit my comments for consideration by the City Council in the manner which you determine most appropriate. The report mentions a number of opportunities for monitoring and evaluation, and I would like to be available to volunteer for these efforts, if needed.