Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Short term rentals issue once again finds its way to City Council discussion

The battle for the right to rent your own home continues in Wilmington.

The short-term rentals debate continues in Wilmington after the Planning Commission decided to continue the item until December (Port City Daily photo/FILE)
Wilmington City Council will hold a meeting to discuss short-term rentals once again. (Port City Daily photo/FILE)

WILMINGTON — It’s been a topic of discussion for several years now — Wilmington City Council even approved new ordinances pertaining to short-term rentals over the summer — but like a penny that keeps turning up, short-term rentals are once again up for discussion.

In June, Wilmington leaders approved a partial plan regarding short-term rentals — vacation rentals like those found on AirBnb or VRBO — but only addressed regulations pertaining to “homestay” rentals, not whole-house rentals, which proved more contentious.

Related: Update: After three years, Wilmington approves partial short-term rental plan

Homestay rentals are rentals where a homeowner rents out a spare room or two to guests while still residing on the property. These rentals were actually the cause for least concern among residents and local leaders and are currently permitted in all zoning districts.

That means anyone living in a residential or non-residential district is able to rent a spare room by the night, provided certain guidelines are met.

“Whole-house” rentals, as the name implies, refer to property owners renting an entire residence out — which has led to concerns from some residents about who might rent those houses, and what they might do while renting them.

Port City Daily has previously reported on some of the concerns surrounding short-term rentals, specifically whole-house rentals.

Related: After three years, Wilmington approves partial short-term rental plan

Advocates have routinely pointed to the increase in Room Occupancy Tax, a boost to the tourist industry, and the rights of homeowners to earn revenue from their residents. Detractors of whole house rentals claim that the transient population of short-term, whole house rentals in residential years could cause an increase in crime by fostering drugs, prostitution, and other crime. Other claims include that whole house rentals will cause on-street parking crunches and that whole house rentals reduce the affordable and workforce housing stock.

According to the City of Wilmington, a public meeting will be held Oct. 26, at 8:30 a.m. for council to further discuss the pros and cons of allowing whole-house rentals.

According to the city’s website, the meeting will not have a public input session and no action will be taken.

“Although the meeting will be open to the public, a public hearing will not be held and no actions are expected at the meeting. This will be a follow up to the Council action taken at the July 17 City Council meeting when legislation on short-term room rentals was approved. Friday’s discussion will focus on consideration of “whole-house” short-term rentals in residential districts,” according to the site.


 

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