Gregg Stebben has waited nearly two years for Raleigh to allow residents to rent out rooms in their homes. He was fined by the city in the fall of 2014 for renting out space in his house through Airbnb.
Sitting in the front row during Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, Stebben applauded the mayor’s suggestion to delay a vote on proposed regulations for short-term rentals for the third time in a year.
“No regulation is better than bad regulation,” Stebben said.
About 30 people attended the meeting Tuesday, when the council was set to vote on proposed rules for short-term rentals. The council instead decided to create a task force that will talk to stakeholders, look at short-term rental practices in other cities and recommend a set of regulations in January.
Each council member will appoint two people to the task force.
Raleigh currently has no regulations governing residents who rent out their properties for fewer than 30 days through online services like Airbnb and VRBO, meaning such activity is technically banned. City leaders in late 2014 opted to stop enforcement until the council adopts short-term-rental rules.
Since then, the council has been hung up on how to regulate whole-house rentals. Some council members have said they worried such rentals in suburban neighborhoods could bring unwanted noise and traffic.
Councilwoman Kay Crowder said some neighborhoods are already “suffering” from instability.
“There are neighborhoods in this city that are at tipping points, and allowing some of this without some restraint ... can cause some of those areas to go over the edge,” Crowder said.
Raleigh’s proposed rules would allow condo and townhouse owners to rent out their entire space, but limit most residents with freestanding houses from renting out more than two rooms. The proposal would also limit residents from hosting more than two adults at a time and prohibit more than one short-term rental within a 400-foot area.
Nearly 1,500 people signed a petition to lobby Raleigh leaders for proprietary freedoms, which are allowed in comparable mid-sized cities like Austin, Texas; Nashville, Tenn.; and Durham.
Residents who spoke Tuesday argued that the rules would make Raleigh less family-friendly for tourists.
Proponents of whole-house rentals noted that, over nearly two years, the city has only received a handful of complaints about short-term rentals.
Jennifer Williams, who lives on White Oak Road, said her next door neighbor quietly operated an Airbnb space for months before she learned about it.
“We’ve never had any kind of negative experience living next to an Airbnb,” Williams said.