TBJ: Beware Airbnb, VRBO property owners! Raleigh may start citation process

Once again, Raleigh City Council failed to get the votes to move forward with short-term rental regulations that would allow for homeowners to use services such as Airbnb and VRBO.

This means - according to a statement attributed to Travis Crane, assistant director of planning and zoning for the city - that, if a complaint is issued over an Airbnb rental, the city can enforce its current ordinances.

”The recommendation from the committee was to direct staff to write an ordinance that would allow some form of short term rentals,” the statement reads. “The recommendation was not approved by the City Council, therefore, there are no regulations that would permit short term rentals. Like any Zoning enforcement, we respond to complaints. The use is not legal in the city, and if we receive a complaint we would investigate.”

Tuesday’s vote was three years in the making.

As Mayor Nancy McFarlane noted at the meeting, “we’ve worked on this for quite a long time.”

After years of discussions, several committees, two rejected ordinances and recommendations handed down by a specially-appointed task force, some thought Tuesday would be a step toward resolving the issue. At hand was voting on text amendments to proposed rules, requiring room-renting homeowners to get yearly fire inspections and to limit the number of rooms they offer on services like Airbnb to four.

Just three hands were raised when the vote was called, however, those of departing town council members Mary-Ann Baldwin, Bonner Gaylord and McFarlane. All other votes were in opposition. ...

“I want to thank everybody that spent their time on the task force,” McFarlane said. “I appreciate what you did.”

The use of services such as Airbnb, which allows private homeowners to rent out rooms for spare cash, is technically illegal, though the city hasn’t been enforcing those rules for the past three years.

Proponents, including Airbnb hosts, say it’s vital for a technologically-savvy.

Opponents, however, fear increased traffic and neighborhood activity with short-term rentals.

In an email, task force member and shared economy supporter Brent Woodcox called it “unfortunate” that the remaining four councilmembers present - Kay Crowder, Dickie Thompson, David Cox and Stephenson“rejected a progressive, forward-thinking compromise put forward by citizens.”

”I’m not sure what happens next,” he writes. “But I, along with many other Raleigh citizens, will continue to advocate for legalizing short term rentals with reasonable regulations that balance the rights of property owners with the interests of preserving the integrity of our neighborhoods.”
— Lauren K. Ohnesorge - TBJ

Indy Week: As Gaylord and Baldwin Leave, Raleigh City Council Nixes Short-Term Rental Plan Again

From Indy Week...

Departing Raleigh City Council members Bonner Gaylord and Mary-Ann Baldwin said goodbyes to colleagues Tuesday but didn’t get the farewell gift they wanted: passage of an ordinance allowing homeowners to rent out part of their homes in the short term.

The council has been wrangling with the issue for several years, but only Mayor Nancy McFarlane, Bonner and Baldwin voted yes Tuesday. The ordinance would have legalized the practice of renting dwellings using Airbnb, which describes itself as an “online community marketplace that connects people looking to rent their homes with people who are looking for accommodations.”

Forlorn-looking proponents of Airbnb in the council chambers even conjured up potentially disappointed International Bluegrass Music Association attendees in an effort to encourage the council to pass the bill. With hotel prices high in Raleigh, IBMA fans would welcome the chance to rent out someone’s extra rooms, said those in favor.

Baldwin called the vote a “major disappointment” on Twitter.

”This is a property rights issue,” she tweeted. “It also allows people to earn income. I hope the new Council will not overregulate.”

At-large member Russ Stephenson said he appreciated the work that had gone into the short-term rental proposal by council members and a task force appointed more than a year ago. But he didn’t vote for it. ...
— Thomas Goldsmith - Indy Week

N&O: Airbnb Delayed Again

From the News & Observer...

Raleigh residents technically aren’t allowed to rent out their homes for 30 days or less, as many do through online services Airbnb and VRBO. But the city three years ago halted enforcement of its rules until council members crafted regulations for them.

Supporters say short-term rentals are good for tourism – they’re often a cheaper alternative to hotel rooms – as well as residents who want to make an extra buck. Critics worry the rental model adds more traffic, noise and unwanted strangers to their neighborhoods. Some also worry that someone could undercut the stock of housing for long-term renters.

The council last year was divided on whether to allow residents to rent out their entire home. Tuesday’s failed proposal would’ve allowed resident to rent up to four rooms.

Stephenson, who voted against the proposal, said “many cities in our country have concerns about the impacts on housing affordability and neighborhood preservation.”

The vote drew swift criticism from Brent Woodcox, a Raleigh resident who worked on the task force that crafted the proposal. He said opponents Cox, Crowder, Stephenson and Thompson don’t value citizen input.

“It is clear now that their claims about citizen engagement are nothing more than hollow rhetoric,” he said. ...
— Henry Gargan & Paul A. Specht - N&O

TBJ: Airbnb hosts: This is why Raleigh should finally pass regulations Tuesday

By day, Simon Griffiths is a photographer in Raleigh. But by night, he’s a hotelier, thanks to Airbnb, an app that allows private homeowners to rent out spare rooms for extra cash.

Right now, that’s technically illegal in Raleigh.

For the past three years, city council has been discussing regulations that would allow for the use of Airbnb - and services like it - though they’ve been unable to actually pass any short-term rental legislation.

As it’s again on the agenda Tuesday, Griffiths – and hosts like him – hope to finally see a resolution. ...

That’s because, as the city debates the issue, its staff is holding off on enforcing citations against Airbnb hosts violating city code with their listing.

Discussions began in earnest almost three years ago after another Five Points resident, Gregg Stebben, was issued a citation warning for violating zoning rules with an Airbnb rental.

When two separate sets of proposed regulations failed to pass in city chambers, a 16-person task force was assembled. It met ten times between January and May of this year, agendas show. The group, which included Stebben, ultimately presented three sets of regulations – all of which would requires a zoning permit, proof of insurance and mailed notices to adjacent neighbors, among other rules, in May.

Under the proposal, permits would be revoked if occupants or owners of the property were to be convicted of criminal offenses twice within a calendar year, or cited twice for a verified violation – such as a noise or nuisance citation.

Requirements for annual fire inspections were also added to the proposed regulations in committee. ...

Griffiths says it’s not just about the money.

“Companies like Amazon are not going to consider coming here if Raleigh is constantly restricting technologies that are inevitable,” Griffiths says.

Brent Woodcox, co-chair of the task force and founder of the Share Raleigh political action committee, is passionate about the issue – though not a host himself.

“Raleigh is a city that’s obviously changing and growing and there are a lot of people here who love technology and want the opportunity to leverage technology to make their lives better,” Woodcox says. This is a small opportunity to do that… Raleigh has the opportunity to lead other cities on balancing the needs of property owners with the interest of neighborhoods.”

According to city documents, more than $288,000 in taxes have been collected from Airbnb.
— Lauren K. Ohnesorge - TBJ

Share Raleigh Makes Endorsements for City Council Districts

Raleigh, N.C. – Brent Woodcox, founder of Share Raleigh, released the statement below:

District A

Alex Moore is diligent, determined and prepared to offer new leadership on city council. His background in real estate and expertise on housing issues are needed in city leadership right now. He is also committed to finding a solution on short term rentals that includes reasonable regulations. He has our endorsement.

District B

Neither candidate answered the Share Raleigh survey which concerns us about the level of engagement that voters can expect from their District B representative. We do find it ironic that the lone computer scientist on council is doing more to prevent the city from leveraging technology for the good of the city than anyone else in city government. There is no single force preventing progress for Raleigh who has been as effective as Councilor Cox. We cannot recommend his re-election.

District C

Crash Gregg has some innovative ideas about how Raleigh could leverage short term rentals to combat the affordable housing crisis our city is facing. He also recognizes that hotel rooms remain in too short of supply for the city right now. Mr. Gregg would be a valuable voice on the council on this issue.

There is likely not a candidate for city council this year that understands the property rights at stake with short term rentals than Olen Watson. We wish that all candidates and council members had considered their philosophy about liberty and the role of city government in restricting freedom as deeply as Mr. Watson. His voice and approach is desperately needed in this conversation.

Councilor Corey Branch has in the past voted against a ban on whole home rentals. Though he has not been an overly vocal advocate for short term rental freedom, he has approached this conversation with welcomed care. We understand that this is a complicated issue and the effects of short term rentals can have disparate impacts in different areas of the city. If voters choose to re-elect Councilor Branch, we hope to work more closely with him on this issue. Because of his demonstrated commitment to a rational approach to short term rentals, we also endorse him.

District D

Neither candidate responded to our survey. We make no endorsement in this race but we do note that Councilor Kay Crowder has been a roadblock to progress on short term rental legalization and has been unreceptive to any conversation that could lead to a compromise on the issue. We expect better from our elected officials.

District E

Stef Mendell understands the importance of short term rentals and the role they will play in Raleigh’s future. We find her to be engaged and thoughtful on the issue in a way that many current incumbents are not. Though she supports some regulations that we do not find to be reasonable nor necessary, she would represent a marked improvement on a number of incumbents. Unfortunately for her, she is running against Councilor Bonner Gaylord.

Councilor Gaylord has the unique combination of experience, expertise and vision that we believe can help push forward the cause of short term rental freedom. He has been a vocal advocate on this issue and the idea in general that technological advancement can lead to a better quality of life for Raleigh’s citizens. We appreciate and value his leadership on city council. He has our full endorsement for re-election.

Earlier this week, Share Raleigh endorsed Mayor Nancy McFarlane for re-election as well as Stacy Miller and Robb Ward for city council at-large seats.

More information can be found about Share Raleigh at www.shareraleigh.com.

Share Raleigh Endorses Miller and Ward for City Council At-Large

Raleigh, N.C. – Brent Woodcox, founder of Share Raleigh, released the statement below:

Stacy Miller is energetic, affable and open-minded. Among all council candidates, he seems best poised to bring a perspective to the table that will advocate for ways to leverage technology to improve the quality of life of Raleigh’s citizens. He understands the opportunity that short term rentals can represent in making Raleigh a better city. Mr. Miller also understands the need to adopt reasonable regulations to protect our neighborhoods and allow them to thrive. He is our top choice for city council at-large.

Zainab Baloch supports the recommendation of the city’s Short Term Rental Task Force. She understands the importance of short term rentals to Raleigh’s future and she supports a measured approach to legalizing this use within the city. Ms. Baloch would be an improvement on many current incumbents on city council.

Robb Ward has the experience and expertise related to real estate and housing issues to be a leading voice pushing for short term rental freedom on the council. The current council has too often felt like an echo chamber in need of a disruptive force from the outside who could shake things up. We believe Mr. Ward’s fresh perspective would be invaluable as an addition to the current council and that is why he has our endorsement.

While Miller remains our top choice, any of the other three candidates mentioned above would be a vast improvement on the current incumbent, Russ Stephenson. Councilor Stephenson has not only been hostile toward short term rentals but he has been completely uncompromising and not open to an honest dialogue about the issue. He is standing in the way of progress for Raleigh. We recommend replacing him with a new voice.

(Note: Rob Axtell has made some positive public statements about short term rentals. He did not complete the Share Raleigh survey so we do not have enough information to fully evaluate his candidacy.

Nicole Stewart did not participate in the Share Raleigh survey and has to our knowledge taken no public position on the issue of short term rentals. While we cannot evaluate her on her position on the issue, there is cause for concern that her campaign that is billed as being focused on citizen engagement is not hearing all of the voices within the city. A careful curation of what voices can be heard in the city is a malady that too often has afflicted the current council and it is a mistake that should not be repeated.)

Yesterday, Share Raleigh endorsed Mayor Nancy McFarlane for re-election. Endorsements for city council districts A-E will be released on Wednesday.

More information can be found about Share Raleigh at www.shareraleigh.com.

Share Raleigh Endorses Mayor Nancy McFarlane for Re-Election

Raleigh, N.C. – Brent Woodcox, founder of Share Raleigh, released the statement below:

Paul Fitts is knowledgable about real estate, property rights and the housing issues that Raleigh is facing. Mr. Fitts is committed to short term rental freedom and he would make an excellent leader for the city on the issue. Unfortunately, his campaign does not have the resources or infrastructure that the other candidates in the race do.

Mayor McFarlane has been an advocate for finding a balance on the issue of short term rentals. She has worked over the last 3 years to find a solution that will make Raleigh a better place to live, work and visit while also protecting the integrity and character of our neighborhoods. Where the mayor has struggled is getting her colleagues on council to agree to a compromise. Here’s hoping that if voters elect her to another term as mayor that she can find common ground once and for all. She has our endorsement and our support in that effort.

(Note: Charles Francis did not participate in the Share Raleigh survey and has taken no public position to our knowledge on the issue of short term rentals. Though we cannot evaluate his position on the issue, we are concerned about a candidate for Raleigh’s top job who is inaccessible and seemingly not engaged on all of the important issues the city is facing.)

Endorsements for city council at-large districts will be released on Tuesday and endorsements for city council districts A-E will be released on Wednesday.

Carolina Journal: Share Raleigh aims to hold City Council candidates accountable

By Lindsay Marchello

The debate over short-term rentals in Raleigh has continued for a couple of years without a clear solution. Brent Woodcox is special counsel to the General Assembly and former co-chair of the city’s short-term rental task force. He created Share Raleigh, a political action committee focusing on the debate over short-term rentals. Woodcox sat down with CJ Associate Editor Lindsay Marchello to discuss his project and the future of short-term rentals in the city. The complete interview will appear in the October Carolina Journal.

Marchello: How did you get involved with the short-term rental debate?

Woodcox: I follow city issues pretty closely. and this one for me just struck a chord because of the nature of property rights and neighborhoods. I’ve bought three homes in the last five years … and so just the real estate market and what is happening in Raleigh is really interesting to me. I saw this issue and I thought, man there’s gotta be something that can be done. This isn’t as hard as it’s being made out to be. So the city decided to put forth a task force and we’ve been going on for about two years now. The city just can’t come up with any kind of response, so they put together a task force, and the mayor asked me to be a part of it.

When I got there I volunteered, questionably, to be one of the co-chairs … . We had about 12 meetings over the course of three or four months and we hammered out a proposal. There was a lot of disagreement about what the priorities should be, and there was agreement on what we need to get in an ordinance. Basically, that is something that makes Raleigh an open place and a place people want to visit and can enjoy the experience while they are here but doesn’t disrupt the character or integrity of our current neighborhoods. We put together as a task force an ordinance that did that and, unfortunately, there just wasn’t the political will to go forward with that with the current council. I’m a person who has been involved with elections on the state level but never in city elections before, but I thought, what can I do to make sure this issue isn’t forgotten, and the task force recommendations don’t get put aside. I thought, well I’ll start a political action committee and I can try and draw attention to this issue and make sure that candidates who are running take it seriously and they have a position, and the voters in Raleigh have a right to know what their position is, and hopefully we can help educate the voters on what they think. ...

Read the full conversation on the Carolina Journal website...

SHARE RALEIGH ANNOUNCING ENDORSEMENTS NEXT WEEK

Raleigh, N.C. – Brent Woodcox, founder of Share Raleigh, announced today that Share Raleigh will be making endorsements in Raleigh municipal elections next week following the schedule below.

Monday (9/18): Mayoral endorsement

Tuesday (9/19): City council at-large endorsements

Wednesday (9/20): City council districts A-E endorsements

More information about Share Raleigh can be found at www.shareraleigh.com.

###

News Release: Share Raleigh Surveying Candidates, Endorsements Forthcoming

Raleigh, N.C. – Brent Woodcox, founder of Share Raleigh, announced today that candidate surveys have gone out to all candidates for Raleigh city council and mayor regarding the legalization and regulation of short term rentals in Raleigh.

“Candidates for city council and mayor should go on the record on their positions on short term rental freedom in Raleigh. These candidate surveys and our endorsements will help voters know where candidates stand on the issue before they go to the polls in October,” said Woodcox.

Candidates will specifically be asked to answer five questions:

·       Do you support legalizing short term rentals in the city of Raleigh? Why or why not?

·       Do you believe that city policy regarding short term rentals can balance the desire to make Raleigh a better place to live, work and visit with the need to protect the character and integrity of our neighborhoods? Why or why not?

·       If you are inclined to support short term rentals, what types of regulations would you support for them? If you are inclined to oppose short term rentals, are there any regulations that would make you more likely to support their legalization?

·       On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate the issue of short term rentals regarding their importance to Raleigh's future?

·       If elected to city council, how would you plan to enact your policy preferences on short term rentals into law?

Share Raleigh plans to make endorsements in Raleigh municipal elections based on the feedback gathered from candidate surveys following Labor Day.

More information can be found about Share Raleigh at www.shareraleigh.com.

###

News Release: Share Raleigh Will Impact Raleigh Municipal Elections This Fall

Raleigh, N.C. – Brent Woodcox, former co-chair of the Short Term Rental Task Force for the city of Raleigh, announced today the formation of a political action committee dedicated to short term rental freedom in the city of Raleigh and focused on Raleigh’s 2017 city council elections. Share Raleigh will impact elections this fall by surveying city council candidates and candidates for mayor on their positions on legalizing short term rentals in the city. The committee plans to engage in a voter education campaign so that Raleigh citizens will know where candidates stand on the issue of short term rentals before they go to the polls in October.

“Over the past two years, thousands of citizens in our city have expressed their support for legalizing short term rentals in Raleigh, but unfortunately thus far their calls have gone unheeded. Share Raleigh will give voters the opportunity to know which city council candidates stand with them in support of short term rental freedom,” said Woodcox.

Short term rentals are illegal in the city of Raleigh but the code enforcement period has been extended. After nearly two years of debate and consideration of the issue of short term rentals in Raleigh, the city council formed a Short Term Rental Task Force in January assigned to make a recommendation to the council regarding the legal issues surrounding short term rentals. The task force made its recommendation for legalizing short term rentals within the city at the council meeting held on June 6. The council failed to take a vote on the measure and referred the issue to the Economic Development and Innovation Committee.

More information can be found about Share Raleigh at www.shareraleigh.com

###

WRAL: Resident group proposes Airbnb rules for Raleigh

The Raleigh task force resident group proposed official Airbnb regulations at a meeting Thursday evening, voting to recommend allowing short-term rentals in Raleigh through sites like Airbnb.

Without Airbnb regulations in the city, technically short-term rentals are not allowed within city limits. But city officials do not enforce that rule.

Short Term Residential Rental Task Force Recommendation

Under the recommendations passed by the task force, owners would need a permit from the city to rent out property. The recommendations now go on to the city council.

"There are ways this can be done very well," said task force member Brent Woodcox.

Jenni Faison rents out a room in her family home and another separate property in Raleigh.

"It was the best option," Faison said. "Short-term rentals are good for a town, it's good for a city, it's good for Raleigh."

The new recommendations will apply to most short-term rental situations.

"A lot of people, they want to rent out just an extra room or they want to rent out their house when they go on vacation," Woodcox said...

Read more here...

 

Carolina Journal: Raleigh debate over short-term rentals continues

City still hasn't legalized Airbnb and other rental alternatives but enforcement has been confusing and haphazard

By 

Lindsay Marchello

t began with an anonymous complaint.

It’s now a full-scale debate — about property rights, the free market, and, in fact, freedom of choice.

Short-term rentals — Airbnbs, for example — have been banned in Raleigh for years, though enforcement of that ban has been lax as the city debates ways to regulate the industry.

Airbnb, VRBO, and Home Away are all online platforms letting people rent out rooms or their entire home to guests. These platforms are an increasingly popular alternative to hotels, largely because of their affordability and unique personal touch. As their popularity grows, cities have taken an interest and have stepped in to regulate the industry.

Charlotte, for instance, has a provision in its city code requiring residents to register their rental property. In Asheville, short-term rentals are prohibited in residential districts but allowed in some non-residential areas. Raleigh city officials are working with owners of short-term rental properties to legalize the practice while also addressing concerns, such as how the additional renters would affect traffic flow and a constant turnover of people living in a neighborhood.

The anonymous complaint, against Raleigh resident and tech entrepreneur Gregg Stebben, sparked the debate over whether short-term rentals have a place in the city.

The city’s Economic Development and Innovation Committee in the coming months is set to consider a proposed ordinance, yet the debate lingers and the issue remains unsolved.

The complaint against Stebben came in 2014.

“When you list something on Airbnb — at least at that time — you would get a little pop-up thing that said check with your local authorities to make sure this is OK,” Stebben explained. “I did that.”

Stebben called the City Planning Department. Officials told him it was unclear whether short-term rentals were legal but to place his listing on Airbnb anyway. If someone filed a complaint, the city would then get involved.

Someone complained.

“Ironically, I was the first one in Raleigh to get cited,” Stebben said. “The city could no longer be cavalier about, ‘We don’t know if it’s illegal or not.’ Now they had to respond to the complaint, and they came to the conclusion that given how the zoning laws are currently written, it’s not legal.”

What followed were years of town hall meetings, City Council hearings, committee discussions, and several votes without an ordinance. ...

Stebben is frustrated by yet another delay.

“How many man hours has the city staff spent on this?” Stebben asked. “It’s not just that the city has spent 2 ½ years on this, the city staff has spent a ton of time on this.”

Chris Browder shares Stebben’s sentiments. Browder began renting his Brentwood home in August of last year.

“I really hope they pass whole house rental,” Browder said. “At the end of the day, let us go get a permit and get back to working so we don’t have to worry about it.”

Crane cited the constant stream of new renters as a primary issue in the debate.

“In a normal neighborhood context you might know your neighbors, you might recognize them and you see them time and time again,” Crane said. “It’s just that there is always a different set of people that are being introduced in the neighborhood, and there are people who find that objectionable.”

According to Stebben, the task force tried to address that concern, but city attorneys rejected its plan.

“In the city of Raleigh, there are several things where neighbors can make a determination for their neighborhood. For instance, if you think the speed limit on your street is too high, you can petition your neighbors to lower the speed limit,” Stebben said. “We used that as a model so that any neighborhood that wanted short-term rentals could have them, and any neighborhood that didn’t want them could make sure that didn’t happen.

“A lot of people in Raleigh like short-term rentals,” Stebben said, pointing out that all the town hall meetings and public hearings show a majority favoring the practice. “By my count it’s 1,580 positive responses and 17 negative.”

“Banning whole-house rentals won’t make them go away. Instead, we’ll miss out on tax revenue and tourism opportunities,” Baldwin told  The News & Observer last year. “We’re basically curbing entrepreneurship and creativity, and that’s not what I want Raleigh to be known for.”

Read more here...

 

 

N&O: Raleigh delays vote – again – on Airbnb rules

BY PAUL A. SPECHT

RALEIGH 

The city still has no regulations for residents who rent out their homes through websites like Airbnb and VRBO.

The Raleigh City Council on Tuesday delayed a vote on proposed rules that would allow most residents to rent out their homes for up to 30 days at a time. The practice is currently banned in Raleigh, but city officials are allowing hosts to operate while they hammer out regulations.

Tuesday’s move came eight months after the council created a task force to research short-term residential rentals. The group drafted a set of rules that aim to help protect neighborhoods from excess noise and traffic while also helping the tourism industry and residents who rely on rental revenues.

The group suggested categorizing short-term rentals into three types: Type 1 would have a property manager on-site throughout the rental period. Type 2 would require a manager to be on-site 181 days of the year, but not during the rental period. Type 3 wouldn’t require a manager at all, but would only be allowed in mixed-use districts.

Each host would apply for a permit and pay a $150 fee, and then pay an $82 renewal fee each year.

Rather than vote on the proposal, the City Council voted to send it to the Economic Development and Innovation Committee, led by Mayor Nancy McFarlane.

The vote comes almost exactly a year after the council sent a different set of short-term rental regulations to the same committee. That was on June 7, 2016, after the council failed to adopt rules in a 4-4 vote.

Read more here...