Departing Raleigh City Council members Bonner Gaylord and Mary-Ann Baldwin said goodbyes to colleagues Tuesday but didn't get the farewell gift they wanted: passage of an ordinance allowing homeowners to rent out part of their homes in the short term.
The council has been wrangling with the issue for several years, but only Mayor Nancy McFarlane, Bonner and Baldwin voted yes Tuesday. The ordinance would have legalized the practice of renting dwellings using Airbnb, which describes itself as an "online community marketplace that connects people looking to rent their homes with people who are looking for accommodations."
Raleigh resident Gregg Stebben started renting a section of his home in 2014, but ran into trouble with city regulators. On Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017, Raleigh city council members turned down an ordinance that would have allowed such use.
Forlorn-looking proponents of Airbnb in the council chambers even conjured up potentially disappointed International Bluegrass Music Association attendees in an effort to encourage the council to pass the bill. With hotel prices high in Raleigh, IBMA fans would welcome the chance to rent out someone's extra rooms, said those in favor.
Baldwin called the vote a "major disappointment" on Twitter.
"This is a property rights issue," she tweeted. "It also allows people to earn income. I hope the new Council will not overregulate."
At-large member Russ Stephenson said he appreciated the work that had gone into the short-term rental proposal by council members and a task force appointed more than a year ago. But he didn't vote for it.
"I think that what has happened is that we have had really polarized views," Stephenson said, adding that he hopes the new council will develop a more collaborative approach.
With Baldwin stepping down and Gaylord losing his seat, the council will include two new members when they meet again in December. Nicole Stewart will replace Baldwin as an at-large member, and Stefanie Mendell will take the District E slot held by Gaylord.
McFarlane bid adieu to Gaylord and Baldwin words of praise for their service, as well as pottery from the famed North Carolina artisan Ben Owen.
In other action, council members:
- Heard that the Raleigh Bikeshare project will get underway in May, supplying three hundred bikes and thirty physical stations. The bikes will have tiered pricing for lower-income people as well as GPS and electric-assist components.
- Approved amending the city's consolidated code to make sure that homes are found for people living at the Wintershaven Apartments complex near downtown when the residents are displaced for renovation;
- Agreed to amend the city's Unified Development Ordinance to exempt public or private schools in the Downtown District from a mandated lot size of 500 square feet per pupil. No downtown schools met the requirement anyway, proponent Gene Davis, representing Exploris Middle School, told the council.