JACKSON – Even tech companies admit there’s a problem.
With the remote working revolution pushing more short-term rentals into rural communities, companies like Airbnb are starting to post advice to smaller local governments on how they can “benefit from the increased number of workers at distance”.
The Pew Research Center found that investors bought nearly a quarter of U.S. single-family homes sold in 2021, in many cases driving up rents for suburban families.
Destinations already facing a housing crisis are trying to curb these trends.
In Kauai, Hawaii, a “short term” rental is defined as less than 180 days and prohibited outside of a designated “visitor” area.
Last week, the tourist destination and fishing community of Sitka, Alaska, passed ordinances intended to allow only residents who live on their properties for at least six months a year to obtain permits to offer short-term rentals. term. And those permits expire when the property is sold.
The city of Jackson is “lucky” compared to peer communities like Aspen, Colorado, Planning Director Paul Anthony told city councilors at a Monday workshop on short-term rentals. Jackson has a fraction of the legal short-term rental listings like Aspen, something like 200 compared to Aspen’s 3,000, he said.
In addition to the 200 short-term rentals allowed, Jackson has more that fall outside of this area. Trying to quantify the number, Jackson staff found 70 properties advertised through Airbnb, VRBO and local private management companies on July 14.
“This count is a snapshot in time and likely conservative because units are frequently listed and removed based on owners’ needs and because units may be advertised on other platforms like Facebook and other social media sites. that the city is not following,” the staff report stated.
Anthony told advisers it was up to them whether Jackson needed more restrictions to get ahead of the growing problem. He did, however, ask that the board make at least some changes so Jackson’s few rules could be enforced.
“The current status quo system is unworkable,” Anthony said.
Indeed, since 2007, the city has allowed short-term rentals outside of the Lodging Overlay or the Snow King Resort District as long as those rentals occur less than once a month. Catching a landlord re-renting or re-occupying a unit after having rented once within the allowed 31-day period would require “stakeouts” and “routine compliance checks,” the staff report said.
Raising the rental limit to once every 60 or 90 days, or allowing three short-term rentals a year would be easier to follow, Anthony said, and the city could also require everyone to apply for a permit, which is currently not the case.
In the workshop, councilors seemed to prefer capping short-term rentals at between two and six a year instead of the current 12.
Most of the conversation, however, was about creating an “exclusion” from the rules for locals.
Although the term ‘local’ can be controversial – as evidenced by some advisers avoiding the word when discussing the possibility of an exception.
Any rule aimed at helping the middle and working class would require some definitions of who policymakers want to help.
City staff presented several different options. Each comes with drawbacks.
For example, the simple option of looking at Wyoming residency is not legal. Giving priority to local employees would exclude retirees on fixed incomes. Requiring proof that the property is a primary residence instead of a secondary residence would be difficult to regulate.
The council’s best bet might be to add an income-based “hardship license” for people earning less than, say, 400% to 500% of the federal poverty level, city attorney Lea said. Colasuonno.
The federal poverty line changes depending on the people in a household. In 2021, it was $26,500 for a family of four, putting the example of Colasuonno, which she said she’s seen operating in other communities, above six figures.
“When people suffer these impacts of not being able to pay for their property because property taxes and other things go up,” Colasuonno said, “it gives them the tools.”
A hardship license would be a progressive way to test each case. But as Anthony pointed out, this approach would require staff time and money to oversee it.
Whether limiting rentals outside of the Lodging Overlay would free up housing for the workforce is also lacking in data and still up for debate.
Several written public comments mentioned landlords who had evicted long-term tenants, opting for higher income on short-term rentals.
Ash Hermanowski, who lives in Aspens where short-term rentals are allowed, said: ‘Put simply, I have no neighbors. Airbnb guests arrive and depart daily.
The city staff report says there is evidence that some residential properties were purchased to take advantage of the 12-per-year allowance rather than being rented long-term, removing units from the community housing pool .
Other public comments have refuted this point.
“Most renters are looking for the stability that ideally comes with a one-year rental, which would not be possible if a property had 30 or 90 day rentals,” Phil Stevenson wrote to the council.
Councilor Jessica Sell Chambers pointed to data that indicates an increase in short-term rentals, a reduction in housing supply and an increase in rents.
A 2019 study from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Hong Kong found that in cities where Airbnb was popular, affordable housing turning into short-term rentals was both good and bad. Tenants have been harmed, but local hosts, who may also be low-income, have benefited.
Mayor Hailey Morton Levinson said she wanted more information on what capping the number of short-term rental permits would look like.
In Santa Cruz, California, 250 short-term rental permits are available by lottery each year. Short-term rentals that are not hosted – apparently by responsible local owners – are prohibited.
The city will need another workshop to work out what exactly a “local exception” would look like, how it would be enforced, and what money would fund that enforcement, before changing the regulations.