The Little Rock City Board soon will take up whether further regulation is necessary for the growing industry of short-term rental of space in private dwellings — the Airbnb business to name the leading Internet rental gateway.
Slated for a future Board agenda is City Board review of the Planning Commission’s 6-1 votes in favor of two separate proposals to allow garage apartments in the 200 block of Crystal Court to be used for short-term rentals. The city planning staff opposed the proposals.
There may be 300 Airbnb listings in Little Rock, the Planning Commission heard but there’s really no accurate gauge of the short-term rental business in Little Rock.
The staff has concerns about short-term rentals, a commercial lodging business. The writeup on the issue for the City Board said on one of the applications said:
Ruth Bell of the League of Women Voters spoke in opposition to the request. She stated city ordinances have not been updated in response to short-term rentals and the city does not know the number of short-term rentals. While taxes may be collected, it cannot be confirmed for a particular property or operator. The density of short-term rentals in a neighborhood cannot be established and there is no information available on effects on residents and neighborhoods. Working with the current zoning ordinance, staff has defined short-term rental as commercial rental and unless the ordinance is updated, she would urge the commission to vote no on this request. Commissioner Berry stated it seemed to him the distinction between an accessory dwelling unit and a short-term rental was unclear and does not see this as a detrimental land use in a residential neighborhood.
Director of Planning Collins informed the commission complaints have been received about other short-term rentals in the city. As both the applicants who seek to operate short-term rentals and residents deserve to have their views heard and considered, short-term rental cannot be a use allowed by right. Staff is working identifying all of the short-term rentals within the city; however, using tax records is forbidden under state law. Short-term rentals are more than about taxes. There are also land use considerations and neighborhood concerns to be taken into account.
In the second proposal on Crystal Court, the Planning Commission heard that other cities were dealing with the same issue. Here, again is a suggestion that conversion of an “accessory building,” or garage apartment, for short-term rentals is somewhat different than the use of such a structure for long-term rental.
The issue is listed on the City Board agenda meeting Tuesday to set items for the Oct. 2 meeting.
The Capitol Zoning District Commission has been working for months on new rules governing short-term rentals in the historic neighborhoods it regulates around the Capitol and Governor’s Mansion. The rules prompted objections and were deferred until a meeting last week. I’m checking to see where that stands.
Update: CZDC last week declined to adopt comprehensive short-term rental rules They’ll continue to be evaluated case by case