Take time on Raleigh’s Airbnb rules

It is one of those times when delaying a decision on a controversial issue is exactly the right decision, and the Raleigh City Council is due credit for it.

On the issue of the Internet service Airbnb, a council committee headed by Mary-Ann Baldwin, a veteran council member who has been sympathetic to local Airbnb users, will wait and take up the issue next month.

That’s far better than having what surely would have been a controversial debate in council over something that’s more complicated than it appears on the surface.

And what is the surface? Some homeowners in Raleigh want to continue posting rooms for rent on the Internet in order to make some extra money. Travelers, or those who’ll be in town for a while, like the Airbnb option because it is typically cheaper than hotels.

Homeowners ought to be able to do as they wish with their properties if what they wish doesn’t involve construction or an infringement on the privacy and peace of their neighbors. And what’s the harm, in a growing city, of having more options for visitors?

But there is a rub or two. One, for neighbors of those participating in Airbnb, there are justifiable security concerns. There also are legitimate questions about increased traffic on residential streets. And it’s certainly fair enough for hotel operators to ask what licensing hoops the Airbnb folks face given the rules and practices required for conventional hotels. There’s also the matter of occupancy taxes.

So Baldwin has some work to do. Obviously, there are going to have to be specific rules. Probably more than a few of them. And all rights have to be respected, including those of neighbors and of homeowners who believe they should be able to rent out their rooms if they wish. All this is why it’s going to take a while to settle this matter. And it should.