City council hears how other cities have handled short-term rentals

City council hears how other cities have handled short-term rentals

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - After its agenda meeting Monday morning, the Wilmington City Council heard from representatives from Raleigh, Asheville and Cornelius on how their respective cities are handling short-term rentals.

After a question-and-answer period with the representatives, the results of a 20-question poll of council members about short-term rentals also were displayed. Council members came to a consensus on less than a handful of the questions.

City council asked staff to put together recommendations that the council can go over in a work session.

Wayne Herron, planning director of Cornelius, told council members that short-term rentals became an issue for residents when home began popping up on vacation-rental-by-owner websites.

In 2009, an ordinance was adopted that the rentals must be owner-occupied and rentals are allowed the multi-family structures but not in single-family homes. Herron mentioned that the city has had just two enforcement actions since the ordinance was adopted.

Travis Crane, Raleigh's assistant director of planning and zoning, said that two versions of a short-term rental ordinance had been presented to city council but neither were adopted. A public hearing will be held about a third version of the ordinance Tuesday.

Raleigh's ordinance would include a two-bedroom maximum for rentals with a resident manager on site. A buffer between rental sites has been a major discussion point.

Shannon Tuch, principal planner for Asheville, told Wilmington's city council that her city held more than a dozen community meetings before an ordinance was passed in November 2015 that wouldn't allow whole-house short-term rentals in residential areas.

It did allow home owner-occupied or resident manager-occupied properties to rent up to two rooms for short-term purposes. Buffer, house size and off-street parking rules were later removed to make owner-occupied rentals easier.

The issue with short-term rentals in Wilmington arose last year when Residents of Old Wilmington sent a letter to city council asking it to ban such rentals.

Short-term rentals are not directly addressed in the city's Land Development Code so it is currently using related regulations that say the rental period must be at least seven days and occupants must be family members. Wilmington leaders estimate there are currently more than 100 short-term rentals in the city. This estimate includes both entire homes and private or shared bedrooms.

A public survey by the city found that a majority of respondents think that short-term rentals should be allowed to operate anywhere in the city with no minimum stay time.

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