RULES PROPOSED: For Airbnb and similar rentals in historic neighborhoods.

The Capitol Zoning District Commission, which oversees neighborhoods around the Capitol and Governor’s Mansion, will hold a public hearing this week on proposed rules to regulate short-term rental of residences, such as Airbnb and VRBO businesses.

The Commission meets at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at 410 S. Battery. On the agenda is a hearing on a revised version of proposed rules to cover home rentals.  The proposal explains the history:

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As the “sharing economy” phenomenon spreads throughout a host of industries in the US and the world, staff has heard extensive concerns from residents and property owners (particularly in the Governor’s Mansion Area) regarding the rise of informal, short-term lodging facilities in the District. In a typical case, a property owner will list a house, or part of a house, on a website or electronic platform such as AirBnB or Vacation Rentals by Owner (VRBO). This service will then, for a fee, help to match prospective guests with available properties in a given area.

These services are popular with visitors who prefer to stay in a home rather than in a hotel or motel, as well as with property owners, who can realize additional income.

The initial complaints to staff about these uses came from operators of traditional bed-and-breakfast houses in the District. These owners were concerned that the new AirBnB operators had, unfairly, failed to obtain the necessary permits and approvals that had been required of their businesses. More recently, residents practicing allowed home occupations have expressed dissatisfaction that AirBnB operators have not had to obtain the same business licenses and zoning permits to run a similar for-profit venture from their houses. Finally, some residents have expressed concern that these unregulated, short-term accommodations could, in practice, serve as “flop houses” or similar type of substandard lodging detrimental to the dignity and character of the State Capitol and Governor’s Mansion.

(In some large cities, the AirBnB phenomenon is also alleged to contribute to an affordable housing crisis, as units are removed from the traditional rental and real estate markets for use by short-term guests.)

At this link, you can find where the proposed rule now stands after several meetings and changes.

The Commission will take public comments through Oct. 26.

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