09 May We’re very different from Charleston but this is an important side of a story for us
With the task force on short term rentals finished with its report, it is time for the City Council to act. We have had two work sessions where we mulled over the report and listened to the public. This principal proposal for amending our short term rental ordinances is that staff will in most cases approve applications instead of sending them to the Zoning Board of Appeals which, because they have never been given direction by the city, acted almost like a rubber stamp except in a few cases when neighbors strenuously objected. The second proposed significant change is that the number of short term rentals in each neighborhood will be limited to no more than 8% of the residential lots in a neighborhood. An exception can be made if the applicant is saving through restoration an historically significant structure but like other exceptions this would have to go to the Zoning Board of appeals.
It is fair to say that we will not pass a perfect ordinance because this business is relatively new to Beaufort and the more we learn the more the ordinance might have to be adjusted. But that happens with many regulatory rules when it was created based on “what might happen” rather than “what is happening.”
Our principal mission in regulation is to ensure the public safety and to protect the character of each of our distinctive neighborhoods.
Currently staff is putting the recommendation into ordinance form, then it will go to the Metropolitan Planning Commission and finally to a public hearing before council and first and second readings.
As to Charleston, the city — which is very different from us — is considering changing its short term rental ordinances which is what makes the following story relevant.