Oak City residents who want to rent out rooms in their homes on sites like Airbnb are one step closer to getting a green light from Raleigh leaders.
It’s currently illegal for Raleigh residents to rent out rooms in their homes through services like Airbnb or VRBO – short for “Air bed and breakfast” and “Vacation Rentals By Owner.” But city leaders have been working toward legalizing the practice since late 2014.
The city committee tasked with crafting short-term home rental regulations on Tuesday wrapped up its review of the issue, proposing rules that would allow Raleigh residents to rent to a total of two people using two rooms at most. The committee, citing a handful of resident concerns about rentals causing more traffic and noise, also tried to limit the number of rental hosts in each neighborhood.
The proposed rules would prohibit more than one rental host operating within 400 feet of another. The city would grant permission on a first-come, first-served basis. If two people who live within 400 feet of each other applied to rent out space at the same time, the city under the committee’s proposal would use a lottery system to select randomly which homeowner got to do so.
The committee’s proposal isn’t binding. Raleigh’s Planning Commission must review it on April 26 before the City Council considers it, likely at its meeting on May 3.
The committee tried to balance the concerns of residents with those of Airbnb hosts, said Eric Braun, the committee chairman. “It’s been a slow methodical process and at the end of the day I think we’ll get a good result,” Braun said.
The proposal comes after months of deliberation between committee members and a final push from Airbnb supporters and some opponents during the Tuesday’s meeting.
The committee and Planning Commission have already gone through this process once, proposing regulations that the City Council rejected in November. Committee members then went back to the drawing board, drafting stricter rules that they considered and rejected on Tuesday.
More than a dozen residents showed up to the meeting to oppose a proposal that would have allowed homeowners to rent out only one room in their home.
“I came to downtown Raleigh from Apex because there’s a lot more going on here and a lot more opportunity for us,” said Raleigh resident Dan Moore, co-founder of Vaporware. “I look at this as extremely restricting.”
Over-regulating Airbnb could potentially hurt Raleigh’s image and marketability as a vibrant city at a time when North Carolina is already facing economic pitfalls caused by the controversial new state law known as HB2, said Raleigh resident Justin Miller, a local entrepreneur.
“Let’s not put this into the chokehold that’s being proposed,” Miller said. “I want to see a city that’s embracing change.”
At least four residents of the Turnberry community, located outside of the Beltline off Millbrook Road, expressed concerns about legalizing Airbnb. Neighbors should have more say over home rentals in their subdivision, said Pat Boyle, a Turnberry resident. She said the practice causes mysterious and unwanted traffic in her neighborhood.
“To be honest, neighbors thought drugs were being sold out of this house,” Boyle said.