Short Term Rentals – New Proposal

Since January of 2019, City Council has been reviewing the Short Term Rental Ordinance results that went into effect on 01/01/2019. We have heard dozens of applications and vetted each one individually. Having the year and a half experience of individually approving each application has been (in my view) an added value to how we regulate this popular trend of short term rentals in residential districts in our city. For the most part – applicants are primarily found in four areas – West Shore Drive, East Shore Drive, the North End, and the Oceanfront Resort District. However, we have seen and approved some that exist in other parts of the city. For those that have not sat in or watched a council meeting, the applicant has to submit an application to planning, have a public hearing in front of the Planning Commission and then come before City Council for another public hearing. The review of the applications has become very thorough over the last year and a half. Council has implemented technical enhancements to gather information about the application better and tweak the conditions as we learned more about working and what wasn’t.

Enhancements:

  • Procured services from 3rd Party vendor (Host Compliance) to track and identify listings on short term rental platforms prior to their applications coming before Council.
  • Amended the code to make the violation of the regulations immediately fine-able.

Council is also considering additional changes:

  • Purchase Additional Services from 3rd Party Vendor
  • Dedicated 24/7 “in-person” hotline. Number specific to the Zoning Office. Ability to reach out to an on-call inspector
  • Rental activity monitored. Complaints logged in and linked to the property address.
  • Maintains active dashboard of activity for the Zoning Office
  • Hire part-time inspections staff to perform weekend inspections
    • Allows inspectors to have flexible hours, be in the field when problems likely to occur
    • Less cost than full-time employees and provides flexibility
    • Training mechanism for the possibility of transition into full-time positions

Amendments to the Zoning Ordinance

  • Address where short term rentals are permitted
  • Performance standards for short term rentals

Preservation of our neighborhoods is a top concern. Finding the balance between an individual’s right to utilize their private property and that individual’s right to enjoy their home without unreasonable burdens of trash, noise, and privacy is what all of us on Council seek to solve. I have spent a considerable amount of time reviewing the best practices around the country. It is no secret that I tend to vote in favor of Short Term Rentals and generally see them as an added value to our community. All that said, housing costs in Virginia Beach are rising, our overall cost of living index is 105.6, and our housing cost index is 116. Short Term Rentals can pose a threat to the affordability of our neighborhoods. Still, I also believe that the surge in popularity is a response to the already unaffordable housing options in Virginia Beach. I’ve spoken with many families looking into Short Term Rentals and Home Sharing to help them keep their properties. Because of many reasons, Councilman Wood, Jones, and Tower have proposed a change to the current Short Term Rental Ordinance that would remove the Conditional Use Permit process. It would create Overlay districts where STR’s that exist in these overlays would be considered by-right and not require a public hearing or Council approval to operate. (Assuming that meet the regulations outlined in the ordinance.) The proposed overlays are below:

Rezone specific areas to Short Term Rental Overlay Districts

  • West Shore Drive
  • East Shore Drive
  • North End
  • Oceanfront Resort

If properties are located in one of these overlays and can meet the Zoning Ordinance criteria, the STR would be issued a permit to operate issued administratively by Zoning.

Short Term Rentals would not be permitted outside of the Overlay Districts, but would allow additional overlays to be created if a defined area can obtain 60% of owners to agree to the request.

Existing Conditional Use Permits expire in 5 years

  • STRs outside of overlays will not be permitted to operate when STR expires
  • Those located within overlays will be required to operate within the new rules at the time of expiration
  • Owner may “give up” their Conditional Use Permit to operate under regulations in place

Regulations for Sandbridge would remain unchanged

  • Properties located within Sandbridge SSD are permitted to operate STR if they meet current criteria as set forth in Section 241.2 of the Zoning Ordinance
  • No changes proposed to Section 241.2 of the Zoning Ordinance at this time

Council will meet tomorrow to vote on referring this item back to Planning Commission, once referred, the Commission will review the changes (and potentially recommend changes), hold a public hearing, and then vote to send it back to Council. City Council will then review changes (if suggested), hold our own hearing and then vote to formally adopt or decline.

I am eager to hear your feedback on this proposal, you can review the full proposal below:

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