VB City Council bans all new short-term rentals outside Sandbridge unless neighborhoods request an exemption

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – After many back-and-forths, delays and confusion, Virginia Beach city leaders have embarked on part of a plan to manage short-term rentals such as Airbnbs .

By a 5-4 vote on Tuesday, the Virginia Beach City Council banned all new short-term rentals outside Sandbridge unless a majority of people in a specific neighborhood request short-term rentals in their community.

The city council has also approved new regulations on how these short-term rentals will work if approved.

The decision impacts properties that would be rented for less than 30 days at a time using platforms such as Airbnb and Vrbo.

City council members say the changes are not intended to impact those who currently operate short-term rentals with the blessing of the city. Still many of those who are currently renting out their properties using the platforms left the boardroom in disgust on Tuesday night, as applause came from those who say they are in favor of “protecting” their neighborhoods.

The topic of short-term rentals has sparked disagreements between city officials and residents. Many Virginia Beach owners rent their properties to vacationers – and have done so for years – but some neighbors have complained that the frequent flow of strangers is both disruptive and dangerous.

The new rules were offered for the first time in September with the aim of allowing Short Term Rentals (STRs) to operate in areas where vacation rentals have traditionally operated without City Council approval.

Tuesday’s vote came about a week after city council rejected two parts of the proposal before tabling the rest.

The case had also been postponed three weeks earlier. The previous two meetings have seen public comments with people on both sides of the issue spanning several hours.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer suggested that the matter be postponed again until September.

However, City Councilor John Moss urged City Council to tackle at least part of the plan.

“We won’t be smarter then than today,” Moss said.

Moss proposed to approve the rules for short-term rental overlay neighborhoods, meaning that a specific area of ​​the city would be eligible for new short-term rentals if 75% of residents in the neighborhood apply to city council. to authorize them.

All of these rentals are also expected to be subject to new rules prohibiting events, limiting rentals to one rental agreement per week, and capping occupancy to two adults per room.

No speakers were allowed on the matter on Tuesday evening, but many people involved in the subject of short-term rental attended and wore the color red to express their opposition to any new regulations allowing the approval of new applications. .

In the end, Deputy Mayor Jim Wood (Lynnhaven) and council members Louis Jones (Bayside), Barbara Henley (Princess Anne), Guy Tower (Beach) and Moss (At-Large) voted to approve the news. rules. Dyer was joined by board members Sabrina Wooten (Centerville), Rosemary Wilson and Aaron Rouse (At-Large) in voting against the rules. City councilor Michael Berlucchi was absent.

“You know it’s just a real weight taking us away,” said Nancy Parker, a former city council member who opposed the expansion of short-term rentals. “Neighborhoods are of paramount importance to who we are in the city of Virginia Beach, so I have to say thank you very much to the council members who have stepped forward and done the right thing for us.”

However, Elaine Fekete of the Virginia Beach Short-Term Rental Alliance said the ruling punished people who followed the rules.

“I think that says we’re not open to families,” Fekete said. “I represent more than 400 people who rent to families. We are not the party houses, we are not the illegal ones, we are the docile and we rent to families as well as to our soldiers. The city council did not even think of them when it made this decision.

The Virginia Beach Short-Term Rental Alliance also released a full statement on Thursday, saying it was disappointed with Tuesday’s outcome.

The Virginia Beach Property Rights Coalition released this statement on Wednesday:

“The Virginia Beach City Council has banned virtually all new short-term vacation rentals, nearly killing a century-old industry that is flourishing around the world. Council vote will push short-term rentals underground, as the city has shown it is not funded, staffed, or equipped to threaten, fine, or prosecute those who rent their homes without approval from the city.

“Repeated Council votes, motions, alternates, reviews and amendments left the public and frequently Council members confused as to what they were voting for or against. No effort has been made to protect the rights of landlords wishing to rent out their homes, and the plan which once included four superimposed neighborhoods per right now contains none.

“The Council will continue to debate what additional regulations may be imposed on the few existing rental units that have escaped the Council’s ban, while doing nothing to demonstrate how they will cope with the many new unregistered AirBNB-type rentals that are emerging. will undoubtedly expand into the Virginia Beach market. . Council will result in the closure of legal rentals, as unregistered rentals will ignore regulations and costs that Council weighs on those who have always followed the laws.

“The actions of the Council are clear. Virginia Beach’s goal is to drive the vacation home rental market out of Virginia Beach, forcing vacationers to rent expensive hotels. More likely, family vacationers will simply choose a more welcoming resort town. Tourism is a major economic engine for Virginia Beach, and the actions of the Council are a betrayal of our economy and untenable by any level of scrutiny.

Council members have always decided to decide on new general safety rules for all existing short-term rentals. This issue will be revisited in September.

The problem is, it is this ordinance that demands the “grandfather” of all previously approved short-term rentals.

“Are we all illegal now?” I don’t know if they even know what they just went through, ”one man said as he stormed out of the meeting.

The ordinance put to the vote on September 6 communicates that owners who were already operating short-term rentals without a problem and were up to date and registered with the commissioner of the revenue office before July 1, 2018 would be exempt from the ban. As would those who have operated without problem under a conditional use permit.

Those who do not operate “legally” face a fine of up to $ 200 for the first offense and $ 500 for any additional offense.

The issue is far from over, as city council voted at the end of its meeting to reconsider allowing short-term rentals in the North End area and Oceanfront resort area without the 75 membership for hundred of owners.

Stay with WAVY.com for updates.

Get the free WAVY News app, available for download in the App Store and google play, to stay up to date with all your local news, weather and sports, live TV news and other live events.

Comments are closed.