The Arlington County Board is expected to vote on proposed regulations on Airbnb and other short-term rental services at its meeting this Saturday.
The regulations proposed by county staff include limits on the number of short-term renters who can stay in a given residence, depending on the number of bedrooms; it requires that the owner of a rental property use it as his or her primary residence, residing there at least 185 days of the year; and includes other provisions designed to strike a balance between those who want to generate supplemental revenue from their homes and those who don’t want to live next to a de facto hotel.
Arlington Republicans, in a press release today, said they are opposed to the regulations, which the county hustled to enact before the state legislature considers prohibiting such regulations during its January session.
The full local GOP press release is below.
Arlington GOP and Arlington Falls Church Young Republicans (AFCYRs) oppose the proposed “short-term residential rentals” regulations to be considered by the Arlington County Board this Saturday, December 10. While Arlington GOP and AFCYRs support establishing a formal legal structure for Airbnb and other short-term rentals that properly balances promoting the “sharing economy” with maintaining the character of our neighborhoods, the proposed regulations are unduly burdensome.
“Arlington County is rushing at break-neck speed to adopt regulations for Airbnb without fully understanding the impacts or gaining community consensus,” said Arlington GOP Chairman Jim Presswood.
Community Planning, Housing & Develop (CHPD) staff admitted at an Arlington County Planning Commission hearing last week that their process for developing the regulations was “atypical” and much shorter than usual. As a result, they have not done the research and community outreach that would normally be completed prior to adoption of final regulations. CPHD is using an accelerated process because they want the regulations finalized before the next Virginia General Assembly, which is expected to consider legislation on short-term rentals.
The proposed regulations prohibit renters from doing short-term rentals even if their lease allows it, restrict food service, limit the number of contracts and days that residences may be rented, and include potentially onerous parking, inspection, permitting and fee requirements. Taken as a whole, the proposed regulations threaten to push many people out of this activity.
Arlington County should be encouraging the sharing economy in a way that maintains the quality of our community. Benefits include providing residents income to help pay their mortgage or rent, creating additional short-term rental options for travelers, including visiting family members and friends, and enhancing our local economy when guests spend money at local restaurants and businesses.
“It would be a shame if Arlington undermines the future of the sharing economy while other jurisdictions move forward in this area,” said AFCYRs Chairman Andrew Loposser.
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County staff is proposing regulations that would permit Airbnb rentals, which currently exist in a bit of a legal gray area in Arlington, while imposing some restrictions.
Among the proposed regulations:
- Those who rent their home on Airbnb would need to apply for and obtain an “accessory
homestay permit,” which would remain valid for two years.
- County inspectors would be authorized to inspect the homes of anyone with such a permit “at least one time per year,” with proper notice.
- The home being rented is required to be the owner’s primary residence, with the owner living there most days of the year.
- A cap of no more than six guests at a time in any given rental.
- The owner would not be allowed to “prepare or serve food or beverages to
any overnight guests.”
There are a total of 21 proposed regulations listed, including more mundane safety regulations like requiring working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.`
Some of the regulations are said to be “an option” for consideration — such as requiring that owner provide at least one off-street parking space and limiting the number of short-term-rental-eligible apartments in a given multi-family building to no more than 25 percent of units.
The Board this weekend will consider advertising the proposed changes. If approved, public meetings on the regulations would be held in November, ahead of final Board consideration in December.
Nearly 1,000 properties in Arlington were listed on Airbnb in September, according to a county press release. The number was closer to 1,600 over the summer, said County Manager Mark Schwartz.
Airbnb, which has become an alternative to hotels or vacation rentals for many, is growing in popularity, prompting county staff and the County Board to initiate a public process that is expected to lead to regulations on such rentals.
Nearly 1,000 properties in Arlington were listed on Airbnb this month, according to a county press release. The number was closer to 1,600 earlier this summer, said County Manager Mark Schwartz.
While Airbnb is allowing residents to earn extra income by renting out their homes, some say Airbnb renters can make for lousy neighbors. Officials say they’ve heard from both residents concerned about Airbnb and from Airbnb hosts who want the service moved out of legal limbo in Arlington.
“We have several goals for regulating short-term residential rentals,” Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey said in a statement. “We want to protect the character of Arlington’s neighborhoods, ensure public safety for our community, reduce barriers for those who already are or may want to use their homes as short-term rentals in a legal and responsible manner and provide a mechanism for enforcement.”
In October, the Board is expected to pass a Request to Advertise for public hearings on a Zoning Ordinance amendment related to short-term rentals. A final vote on the new regulations could take place as early as December.
One complicating factor: the Virginia General Assembly is considering legislation that would prevent local governments from restricting or collecting hotel taxes on short-term rentals.
“We do not know at this time, what the new legislation will include, and thus the impacts on local government ability to regulate short-term rentals,” County Manager Mark Schwartz told the Board. “We do know that there has been a demand from the community, including short term rental hosts, asking for rules on how to operate legally. By acting prior to the end of December 2016, the County can help inform the state’s ultimate decision.”