After more than 3 years, short-term rental regulations approved in Virginia Beach

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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — After more than three years of study and debate, Virginia Beach will have regulations on its short-term rental properties. 

On Tuesday after more than an hour of public comment and another 30 minutes of council debate, an 8-2 vote to amend 13 city code and zoning ordinances was received with applause from the chambers.

Short-term rentals, which are defined as “dwellings” in which rooms or the entire unit is rented for fewer than 30 days, will have to be registered with the city to operate.

Beginning Nov. 1, a short-term rental must have one off-street parking space per bedroom, no more than two rental groups in the home per week and no more than three people per bedroom in the home overnight, among other requirements. 

“Finally!”, Elaine Fekete exclaimed. “It’s finally over, and I am so thankful.” 

Fekete, who lives in Sandbridge, is one of many who rents her home and has followed the controversial subject since the issue first came to the forefront.

“It’s finally done,” Feteke said. “Three-and-a-half years and it’s finally done! And it is best for the entire city of Virginia Beach.”

Since 2015, the city had been debating how to regulate short- term rentals such as Airbnb’s and “Event Homes,” following complaints from neighbors who call the constant flow of strangers coming and going is disruptive. 

A group calling themselves “Protect Virginia Beach Neighborhoods,” began advocating for stronger regulations saying they wanted to protect VB’s residents from the negative side effects of short-term rentals; such as parking, trash and noise issues.

Ahead of Tuesday, the group endorsed what Virginia Beach City Council voted to send the city planning commission in September.

Their proposal included stipulations that short- term rentals shall have no more than one rental contract during any consecutive seven day period; no more than two people per bedroom (plus four more) per night; and a logbook of all guests must be presented upon city request. 

The planning commission changes are what ultimately won out.

Councilwomen Barbara Henley and Abbott cast the “nay” votes. Councilman John Moss didn’t vote as he was ill.

“I was very disappointed in what several members of city council did,” said Donna Watson, a Sandbridge resident with Protect Virginia Beach Neighborhoods. ‘I feel like they were not listening to the residents of Virginia Beach. They were listening to the business interests in Sandbridge and not thinking about how this is truly affecting the entire city of Virginia Beach.”  

A big sticking point for Watson and others pushing for stronger regulations was the number of rental contracts allowed per week. 

“You are going to have a lot more turnover of strangers in your neighborhood,” Watson said. “It’s really sad if you think about it that Virginia Beach says they are a ‘community for a lifetime.’ I think they need to change their tagline.” 

The approvals by the council set into motion the creation of “Short Term Rental Overlay District’s.” This allows for individual communities and neighborhoods to alter certain regulations if they see fit. 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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