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