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