Chapel Hill Town Council passed a motion 8-1 to start a public engagement process and task force to address short-term rentals.
Short-term rentals are defined as the renting of a residential unit for typically less than 30 days. With more than 300 Airbnbs in Chapel Hill, some residents of the town have been concerned about the potential effects of short-term rentals in the area.
On June 19, the Town Council adopted a resolution authorizing the town manager to update the standards and regulations for short-term rentals.
At the Wednesday meeting, Mayor Pam Hemminger emphasized the proposal was just to create the task force and to set a charge for the task force, rather than to make any decisions on short-term rentals.
Anya Grahn, senior planner for Chapel Hill's Planning and Development Services, presented the proposal to the council. She hopes to use the task force to shape future regulation of short-term rentals in the town.
"At the end of this process, we would hope that we have a draft ordinance that we can share with the council for consideration,” she said. “Staff will be partnering with Rebecca Badget from the School of Government to help us draft this ordinance."
The proposed task force will consist of 11 members: five advisory board members and six community members who are knowledgeable of short-term rentals or are stakeholders in the lodging industry. They will provide recommendations, a public survey, an open house and a second public information meeting.
Community members at the meeting voiced their opinions about the creation of the task force. David Hartman has been an Airbnb host since April 2016.
“I believe people in my situation, private home-owning Airbnb hosts have a right to remain in their homes and traveling families have a right to cost-effective options,” Hartman said. “This is a niche market that I think affects the bottom line of absolutely no multinational corporations, but to me, it means the difference between staying in my beloved home and losing it.”
Grahn said the aims of the task force include identifying goals of short-term rentals, developing a set of recommendations to bring to the town council for consideration and identifying different impacts of possible short-term rentals regulations on the different stakeholder groups.
Using this task force and public engagement process, the Town has an opportunity to define what a short-term rental is in the land use management code ordinance, where it has no current definition. The task force will also assess health and safety in short-term rentals, learn more about occupancy tax such as how it is collected and how it works and determine how to enforce future regulations.
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