CAROLINA BEACH — Short-term rentals have been a topic of debate across the country for several years. In Carolina Beach, these rentals are a way of life for island homeowners but, for the past few years, there has been talk about implementing some sort of restrictions and regulations on rentals.
But in such a small town that is so reliant on short-term rentals and tourism for its economy, placing restrictions on rentals could be problematic.
There are over 300 short-term rentals listed on Airbnb in the Town of Carolina Beach. For a number of homeowners, their properties at the beach serve as a source of income and often as a second home, and renting them out can help homeowners afford their mortgage.
When it comes to short-term rentals, the neighboring City of Wilmington took some dramatic steps to limit how many people may rent out their homes in residential districts. This was despite a state law that appears to conflict with the city’s actions.
But Carolina Beach and Wilmington are clearly not the same: one is a small beach town with a small fulltime resident population, the other is populated predominately by fulltime residents and neighborhoods that are not as transient as Carolina Beach.
Two years ago, former Mayor of Carolina Beach Joe Benson addressed the fact the town would likely need to rethink its policies on rentals — but that has yet to happen. The topic was discussed in following meetings briefly but Benson repeatedly said he wanted to wait to broach the topic since the state legislature would likely be making statewide rules on the subject.
There is no further information on what the town is thinking when it comes to registrations for short-term rentals, but the impacts of placing restrictions on them, even by zoning district, could cause many people to lose income and possibly their ability to pay for their home.
There are plenty of homes for rent in Carolina Beach and they can be found on almost every part of the island, regardless of the zoning. One of the possible suggestions at previous Town Council meetings has been the idea to limit rentals in more residential neighborhoods, much like the City of Wilmington has.
However, with such a small amount of land making up the island town, these restrictions could be more impactful than Wilmington’s.
On May 12, at 6:30 p.m. the Town Council will vote on setting a public hearing to address the topic next month, so nothing will be decided today. Anyone wishing to speak on the item can do so at the public hearing in person, provided Covid-19 restrictions are lifted by then.