Lining up to get into the hearing (photo, Aldertrack).
Yesterday, hundreds of our ward residents joined me at a City Council hearing to call for greater controls for short term rentals (STRs). The crowd was so huge the administration had to move the hearing to the main City Council chamber and testimony lasted until 6pm.
Residents shared stories of constant traffic, trash, noise and other disturbances from STRs on residential streets, and I made a presentation.You can see some of the news coverage here and here.
Your efforts made the difference. We convinced my fellow Aldermen and the administration to make some changes to the ordinance and more importantly, to delay an ultimate vote on the ordinance until June 22, the next full City Council meeting. I hope and expect there will be constructive changes as a result of these efforts.
However, in the weeks ahead, there is still a substantial chance that the industry will continue efforts to further weaken regulation. But, we intend to continue our efforts to strengthen it.
While the current draft allows larger buildings to ban STR listings in a condominium, co-op, homeowner's association or rental building of more than 5 units, the law would do little to curb the proliferation of these units on our residential streets in this Ward. Our experience is that many of the vacation rentals here are controlled by investors, not residents who have a stake in our community.
Moreover, the latest draft contains a loophole to undermine the limitations of one STR per small building (2-4 units). The proposed ordinance permits owners of STRs to "seek relief" in a process very similar to that which we use for liquor licenses. This would force us to try to fight the over 300+ illegal STRs that are already in our neighborhoods as well as battle against anyone seeking to allow more per building. It would result in an exhaustive process for our communities.
As many as 70% of these listings could be investor-owned apartments which have been converted from long-term rentals into hotels in violation of the zoning law under which we bought our homes and rented our apartments. The proliferation of these businesses threatens the very fabric of our community.
If you have not yet communicated your specific concerns and experiences, I would like to hear from you. If you live in, or near, a 2 to 4 unit condo or rental building, please email us with your contact information and address so we can follow up with you regarding this particular issue.
I am grateful for your continued support on this issue.