Virginia Beach’s latest plan to regulate short-term rentals further limits where they can operate

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Those hoping to operate a new Airbnb anywhere along the city’s bay shoreline are officially out of luck if the Virginia Beach City Council’s latest regulations on rentals at short term are approved on Tuesday.

The revised proposal revealed Thursday would completely eliminate all new vacation rentals along the Shore Drive corridor and tighten the rules on rentals currently in place.

Anyone looking to start operating a Short Term Rental (STR) would only be allowed to do so if they own property in Sandbridge or within specific oceanfront or North End boundaries. And even then, in the North End, limits would be placed on the number of landowners within a particular community who would be allowed to operate a short-term rental.

All STRs outside of Sandbridge would be limited to one rental contract per week, and on-site inspections and a summary document of the days rented will be due to the city before receiving a permit.

They are all part of the city’s latest attempt to clamp down on an industry that has been anything but a “short” debate for more than five years.

The issue boils down to property rights. While companies have been running vacation homes in the resort town for more than a century, the emergence of mobile platforms such as Airbnb and Vrbo have completely changed the game.

Landlords in the tourist town can earn extra money by renting out their properties to vacationers who prefer houses to hotels. However, those who own homes in coastal communities and aren’t interested in renting have complained that the constant stream of strangers coming and going is disruptive.

“We live here for safety. Not because we want to live next to a hotel,” Paula Whitehurst said in a public hearing before City Council earlier this month. Whitehurst lives in the oceanfront Old Beach neighborhood, where the number of short-term rentals in operation has exploded in recent years.

The public hearing lasted over two and a half hours with many STR opponents recounting stories of parking nightmares, out-of-control parts that sometimes ended in violence and an overall disruption of traditional owner-occupied neighborhoods.

“Guests who come here seem not to care about us who live next door and have to get up at 5:30 a.m. to go to work,” Whitehurst said.

Just as many speakers defended the use of STRs and said the new rules would punish those who already rent respectfully.

Paige Miyares is an agent with Atkinson Reality in Virginia Beach, which has long managed vacation rentals.

“It sets the stage to put people like me out of business,” Miyares said. “The tightening of areas where they can be. The density caps they proposed eliminate inflows and outflows from the market, which is critical for a professional business like me. »

Miyares said the council’s proposal raises significant equity issues as identical properties will be treated differently depending on which side of the street they are on.

It’s one of the reasons she helped form the Virginia Beach Property Rights Coalition.

In a recent letter to city council, the group touted the benefits of STRs for the tax base as well as for local businesses.

“Virginia Beach’s competitors embrace this rental market while Virginia Beach risks regulating this vacation rental market,” the letter read.

The group listed the regulations it supports, such as the two-bedroom occupancy limit per bedroom, deck inspections every three years and limits on the number of rental contracts per year.

“We support local, licensed and professional vacation rental management because they must maintain the highest professional standards,” the letter reads.

Regardless of City Council approval, an annual fee of $200 per STR operator will be collected starting July 1, so that the city can hire two new employees dedicated solely to ensuring compliance with city rules.

“I think we need to put enforcement measures in place and give it a chance to work,” Miyares said.

She hopes that the city council will choose to postpone its vote to find a better solution.

“Those on the table are not what the public is asking for and that won’t solve the issues that have been presented,” Miyares said.

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