After a year’s worth of work from the Short-Term Rental Task Force, an ordinance to regulate them now sits with the Planning Commission, though a vote is not possible until February at the earliest.
Tuesday afternoon, the commission held a public work session where City staff presented the proposed short-term rental ordinance, which was created by the task force and City staff. This ordinance looks to regulate short-term housing stays like Airbnb and VRBO.
After an hour and a half of discussion among City staff and commission members, the group concluded they needed more time to discuss short-term rentals. Another workshop session was tentatively scheduled for Jan. 14, 2020, at 4 p.m.
“There are some major points to ponder,” said Planning Director Forrest Cotten to the Planning Commission during the meeting.
The proposed ordinance, as it stands now, defines three types of residencies in Auburn, including a homestay, permanent residence and short term non-primary rental. The task force and City staff defined these types.
A permanent residence is defined as a dwelling unit occupied by the same individuals for more than 180 consecutive days and is the usual place of return for housing. It is also the individuals’ documented housing address as noted in things like vehicle and voting registration.
A homestay is where short-term rentals come into play. Homestays are defined as a type of home occupation where an individual that owns the dwelling and uses it as their permanent residence can hire out all or part of that residence for lodging.
Sign up for our newsletter
Get The Plainsman straight to your inbox.
In the proposed ordinance, homestays would be allowed in all zones. However, the length of time the owner is not in residence is limited based on whether the zone uses the family definition. The family definition is written into the City’s zoning ordinance and establishes whether two or five unrelated occupants are allowed to stay in a residence.
In those zones allowing two unrelated occupants, there would be a limit of 60 days a year when the owner is not in residence. All other zones that allow up to five unrelated occupants are allowed up to 120 days, about 4 months, when the owner is not in residence.
“If you’re in one of the family-restricted districts, you could rent it up to 60 days a year when you’re not present,” Cotten told The Plainsman after the meeting. “The other 300 days a year, you could still rent it. You would have to be present.”
A short term non-primary rental is a residence that is not permanent. As the ordinance stands, these are only permitted in urban neighborhood, urban core and corridor redevelopment zones, which are all zones closest to Auburn University’s campus.
The entire property is leased to one party for periods of less than 30 days in a short term non-primary rental. These are permitted for 240 days, or about 8 months, each year.
“There is no magic number [of days] for these,” Cotten said to the Planning Commission. “It’s really just based on what the particular author thinks is appropriate in increment or degree of reasonableness.”
Though no changes or decisions were made about the ordinance as it stands, the commission can still make changes at their next workshop. Several commission members noted there are still things in the ordinance they would like to discuss.
Since the family definition is used several times in the short-term rentals ordinance, some commission members expressed interest in revisiting the City’s definition of a family in the zoning ordinance.
Because the next work session is tentatively scheduled for the second full week of January, the earliest the ordinance could come before the commission to vote on would be at their Feb. 13, meeting.
The next step for this ordinance, if the commission approves any version, is a vote from the City Council.
Do you like this story? The Plainsman doesn't accept money from tuition or student fees, and we don't charge a subscription fee. But you can donate to support The Plainsman.Support The Plainsman