For several weeks, the Little Rock Planning and Development Department has pushed to pass an ordinance to regulate short-term rentals in the city. The ordinance has been met with hesitancy and continued questions and criticisms from the Board of Directors.
Director Kathy Webb requested again that the Board of Directors defer the item at Tuesday’s meeting. Webb said that while she doesn’t “want to keep kicking it down the road,” she has connections in other cities that have offered to provide some input.
If no other delays occur, the item will be voted on at the January 23, 2023, meeting.
The resolution was written in a way to satisfy both sides of the divisive issue, Planning Director Jamie Collins said. Short-term rentals, commonly recognized through popular booking sites like Airbnb and VRBO, are already functioning in Little Rock. Collins said that at the last count in 2020, at least 300 were open for business.
The ordinance outlines codes for these rental properties, such as ensuring that the rentals are taxed the same as hotels and motels. It also codifies bed and breakfasts and short-term rentals as the same. The finer details of the ordinance propose annual inspections, property and guest responsibilities, parking standards and insurance policies.
When the Board did discuss the ordinance — it has already been deferred multiple times — members were not shy to ask questions. At the Oct. 12 meeting, Vice Mayor Lance Hines expressed concerns about parking details in owner-occupied rentals and how inspections can be completed considering staffing shortages.
At the same meeting, Director BJ Wyrick said that having someone available 24/7 to respond to issues within 60 minutes was unrealistic. Director Doris Wright also had concerns about how the short-term rentals would negatively impact the quality of life of the neighbors.
Paul Dodd, an owner of five local rental properties, shared his concerns about the ordinance with the Arkansas Times in September.