Decatur Mayor Bowling Operated Airbnb Banned

DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) — A city of Decatur ordinance doesn’t allow short-term rentals like Airbnbs within the city limits, but that hasn’t stopped Mayor Tab Bowling.

According to our press partners at AL.comthe mayor reportedly rented a small guesthouse behind his own house, located on the corner of Line Street Northeast and Walnut Street, for around $70 a night.

Since at least August, the property has been listed on Airbnb and Vrbo as a “lovely guesthouse in historic old Decatur,” adding that the “entire guesthouse” is hosted by “Russell,” who is second bowling first name.

Aerial view of the old historic district of Decatur (Google Maps)

“Obviously it’s going to end up being awkward,” the mayor said when contacted on Tuesday. “…It’s not something I’m looking forward to covering in the media. I’m not looking forward to that. But I can’t wait for the order to be changed so we can do that.

Bowling added that he did not have a business license for the rental, saying he could stop renting the guesthouse.

“I may have to stop until this order is resolved. It’s probably not going to be received with much favor. I’ll have to figure it out and deal with it,” the mayor said.

Despite the prohibition of short-term rentals within the city limitsthere are at least four listings in the Old Decatur Historic District near Bowling’s residence, with another 33 scattered around the city.

City council members, even those who agree the ban should be reviewed and changed, disagree with Bowling’s actions.

“As elected officials, we have to hold ourselves to the right standard,” District 2 Councilman Kyle Pike said. “Those in the lead should follow the current orders we have.”

“It’s easy to say you’re embarrassed after getting caught. Our leadership must reflect the values ​​of our city. I don’t see that right now,” Councilman Billy Jackson said. “The things we do have to be honest. How people see us makes a difference.

As of Wednesday morning, the mayor’s guesthouse was no longer listed on Airbnb or Vrbo.

News 19 contacted the mayor’s office on Wednesday to request an interview with Mayor Bowling. We were told he was unavailable for an interview, but we received the following statement:

“The Decatur Daily reported the story where I clearly provided full disclosure. I regret listing our property before the city council considered changes to our current ordinance. Our property has been removed from all listings.

Mayor’s Tab Bowling

Decatur City Council President Jacob Ladner met with News 19 to discuss the mayor’s actions, as well as the future of rental properties in Decatur.

Ladner said, “It’s up to us as community leaders to shape the path, which really begins with following the applicable laws” of Mayor Bowling’s decision.

However, Ladner said it can be difficult to enforce the current order, as it was passed long before Airbnb and other vacation rental services became so popular.

“There’s no punitive action in the code for having them,” Ladner said.

“We can try to find the owners and send letters letting them know they’re not supposed to work, but there’s really nothing we can do because it’s not specifically mentioned in our current code, it’s very difficult to regulate and apply anything.”

Ladner said the city council was working on updating the current code which would include an updated ordinance. He said the earliest it could be voted on would be early 2023.

As a reminder, due to the structure of the City of Decatur, Mayor Bowling is not a voting member of the City Council.

Ladner also told News 19 that a “task force” has been formed to begin looking at what kind of enforcement and regulations other cities that have short-term rentals should use as a guide. Ladner said Mayor Bowling was not part of that task force.

Comments are closed.