COLUMBIA — The Columbia City Council will vote Monday on whether to pass new regulations on short-term rental units in the city.
STRs are housing options offered through apps like Airbnb or Vrbo that are typically seen as alternatives to hotels. The city defines a STR as a “residential dwelling unit, portion of a dwelling unit or room within a residential dwelling unit rented by a transient guest.”
The city council and the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission have been working to draft regulations for STRs since 2018.
The new regulations propose three tiers of STRs that are differentiated by the maximum allowable rental nights per calendar year:
- Tier 1: Up to 30 days
- Tier 2: Up to 120 days
- Tier 3: More than 120 days
Along with the tier structure, proposed regulations also:
- Limit STR licenses to one per property owner or authorized tenant,
- Limit occupancy of dwellings used as an STR to a maximum of eight guests,
- Prohibit dwelling usage for special events,
- Require payment of lodging taxes by property owner,
- Restrict certificate of compliance transfer,
- Stipulate registration and licensure requirements (rental and business),
- Include provisions relating to certificate of compliance posting, safety, rental platform identification, accessory dwelling units as STRs, signage, accessibility and licensure revocation.
“For my business, I have chosen not to do short-term rentals in Columbia, specifically because of this ordinance,” said Jeff Galen, a real estate owner and president of the Columbia Apartment Association. “But I will tell you that if I was a short-term operator in Columbia, it would put me out of business.”
Galen said he hopes the city council will turn down the proposed regulations Monday.
“If the city put some realistic, acceptable expectations in their ordinance, then I think it would be a perfect opportunity to do short-term rentals,” Galen said. “And they’re much needed in the city.”
Galen said under these proposed regulations and tiers, he simply would not be able to make enough money to support his business.
Sharon Geuea Jones, chair of the Planning and Zoning Commission, said the new regulations were tailored specifically for the city.
“Most people are going to be able to continue operating more or less the way they currently are,” Jones said. “There’s a very small number of people that are very loud because they have a lot of money tied up in it. They have 10 or more units per host.”
Jones believes there is a huge need for these regulations in Columbia.
“I have a lot of sympathy for folks who have one or two properties that are just trying to offset some of their costs, or that sort of thing,” Jones said. “Folks that are using the lack of enforcement or short-term rental to operate illegal hotels or bed-and-breakfasts, I have no sympathy for.”
The city council will meet at 7 p.m. Monday in Council Chambers.