Another city council meeting, another delay on regulations for short-term lodging—i.e., Airbnb
—was the story on Tuesday night in Raleigh.
Around two dozen people wearing yellow shirts that read "Share Raleigh" showed up in opposition to the new rules, which would have been the first in place since the council voted to stop enforcement of a ban in 2014.
One of the sticking points was a cap on the number of adults
—two, in some residential districts—and another that would have made it so short-term rentals weren't located within four hundred feet of one another.
"Our position is that the parts of this ordinance … will make Raleigh not family-friendly," said Gregg Stebben, an opponent of the ordinance. Stebben used the example of the recent IBMA music festival as a reason why people might want to use AirBnB. "That would be illegal next year.”
“It’s illegal now," Mayor Nancy McFarlane replied.
“It’s illegal now, but not enforced now," Stebben shot back.
"People don’t always like to stay in a house with strangers. … This fulfills the need," said Don Martin, who rents out a house on Airbnb. "It’s possible I will be forced out of this home if this ordinance passes."
The lobbying worked with council member Mary-Ann Baldwin. “I’m looking out in the audience, and I can see at least twelve to fifteen people who came to six to ten meetings of the public safety committee that came here to talk about this," Baldwin said. "They came to the last public hearing, and they spent hours here. We owe them one of two things: either a decision, or we owe them the idea of a task force."
They got it: each council member will get two appointments to a sixteen-member task force, which will discuss the issue with stakeholders and study regulations in other markets.
Not every council member was happy with the decision, though.
“This has really gone on too long," said Dickie Thompson, who unsuccessfully motioned to adopt the rules. "They’re breaking the law and we’re turning our head. … We owe them a decision.”
The results of the task force will be announced in January. And then we’ll get to do this little dance all over again.