A Warning about Regulating AirBnB in Charlottesville (City)

AirBnB remains a constant source of income for some, convenience for many, and challenges for adjacent homeowners in some instances.

The real challenge may lie with governments’ attempts to regulate AirBnB. I was listening to 106.1 The Corner’s Coffee with a (Charlottesville City) Councilor, the Councilor being not-returning-to Council Dede Smith as they discussed AirBnB. Listen to the whole thing, but the remarkable moment for me starts around the 11 minute mark.

We are putting regulations on where in our neighborhoods this can happen … also, as you can imagine there will be certain neighborhoods that are more impacted than others… anyplace you can walk to, hip neighborhoods …

We want to enable it, because it’s a great way for people to be able to afford to live in Charlottesville …we want to enable that without it becoming an investment for rich people. We want to enable people who really need the economics of it.

So, need-based regulations. How does City Council determine “rich” or “poor”?

One can easily recognize some of the difficulties homeowners/home occupants in neighborhoods see — people choose to live in a neighborhood with other people who live there full time, and not in a transient neighborhood.

(We had a great conversation on my personal facebook page, and I hope some of those folks comment or copy/paste those comments here. I’d open that conversation publicly, but as it’s not set public now, I’m not going to open it.)

The Daily Progress recently had an insightful and in-depth story, “Councilors weigh proposed ordinance for transient lodging,”

If approved, anyone operating a transient lodging facility would be subject to an occupancy tax, as well as a business license and provisional-use permit, which would both need to be renewed and updated annually.

And if approved, proprietors would not be required to be on the premises while hosting guests, versus the current bed and breakfast code that as interpreted requires the property owner to be present at the same time as guests. This change, however, would require the designation of a responsible party who would be available at all hours and within 30 miles of the property to address any issues guests might experience.

“I’m just really concerned this ordinance completely illegalizes that very useful economic development in our city and basically loses jobs,” Szakos said before Robertson suggested non-occupied units could technically continue to operate undeterred.

Random searches by City Police to ascertain who’s staying where? How many City staff will be needed to enforce this?


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1 Comment

  1. meg August 24, 2015 at 08:03

    to your last two questions: If it’s like Albemarle zoning, they more than likely will be complaint based. There are a ton of activities going on around that aren’t permitted by zoning, however until someone complains, the County doesn’t actively go after them. I would imagine this would be regulated the same way.


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