Wednesday, October 4, 2023

A third set of short-term rental rules is now under consideration

VIRGINIA BEACH — There are now three different proposed ordinances for the regulation of short-term rentals, and City Council said they would like to pick one and vote on it in next month.

During council’s April 4 workshop, Vice Mayor Louis Jones unveiled a proposed ordinance to deal with the regulation of short-term rentals. On Tuesday, Council member John Moss also proposed his version. The planning commission also has its own proposed ordinance being considered by City Council.

The existence of three separate proposed ordinances for short-terms rentals demonstrates the complexity of the issue, said City Attorney Mark Stiles.

“If you are living in the neighborhoods and you are invested and you know your neighbors, you’re not going to push the limits because you have to live there and you have to face your neighbor across the hedge,” said Stiles when comparing city staff’s thinking about home-sharing versus short-term rentals. “When when you just own an investment property, you don’t have the same concerns.”

Moss’s proposal does not include conditional use permits for property owners who would like to engage in short-term rentals outside of Sandbridge, the Oceanfront and North End neighborhoods, while Jones’ draft does. Moss would like to see people outside of those neighborhoods create overlays.

For nearly two years, the city has been working toward establishing an ordinance regulating short term rental use, according to City Manager David Hansen, who provided a  chronological summary of major actions taken on the issue:

  • August, 2016 — Beaches and Waterways Commission makes a recommendation to City Council. This Commission was tasked with looking at Event Homes, and later with short-term rentals.
  • November, 2016 — Ad Hoc Committee gives report to City Council. The committee was tasked with looking at the proposed state legislation on short-term rentals.
  • July, 2017 — General assembly adopted Senate Bill 1578. This bill allows localities to establish a registry for short-term rentals and to adopt zoning regulations. The city amended ordinances to comply with general assembly legislation.
  • November 21, 2017 — City Council refers the draft ordinances to the Planning Commission for consideration.
  • February 14, 2018 — Planning Commission, following several workshops, recommends a draft ordinance to City Council.
  • February 26, 2018 — Virginia General Assembly passes legislation that protects the Sandbridge district from conditional use permits in their regulations. The state bill said that Sandbridge rentals will be regarded as “principal use,” meaning home owners and property managers looking to engage in short-term rentals could do so without the need for special permits. The bill further complicates Virginia Beach’s efforts to regulate short-term rentals, as City Council had been considering an ordinance — proposed by the planning commission — that used conditional use permits.
  • March 20, 2018 — City Council votes 10-0 to defer consideration of the draft ordinance for 60 days.
A matrix comparing the the proposed short-term rentals ordinances from the Virginia Beach Planning Commission and Vice Mayor Louis Jones (Courtesy of City of Virginia Beach)
A matrix comparing the the proposed short-term rentals ordinances from the Virginia Beach Planning Commission and Vice Mayor Louis Jones. The yellow blocks indicate areas where the two proposals differ. During Tuesday’s workshop, Councilmember John Moss requested that City Attorney Mark Stiles create a matrix that also included Moss’s proposed ordinance (Courtesy of City of Virginia Beach)

To clarify the issue, Stiles’s office provided a matrix comparing the planning commission and Jones proposals. A matrix which included Moss’s proposal was not immediately available.

In summarizing the limitation of his power, Stiles said “the law can’t always make good neighbors” out of people.

City Council will discuss short-term rentals during their next workshop on April 24.

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