Residents pack public hearing on short-term rental regulations in Virginia Beach

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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — More than 50 people voiced their opinions to the city council on Tuesday night over a plan to regulate short-term rental properties.

In September 2017, the city passed an ordinance requiring short-term renters to pay a $1,000 registration fee and pay eight percent sales tax. Now, the city council is considering recommendations from the planning commission about further regulations.

Residents packed council chambers and took to the podium for about three hours. Many introduced themselves as longtime homeowners of beach communities, stretching from the North End to Sandbridge.

While residents have raised concerns over traffic, noise and “bad behavior” tied to the rentals, the crowd was split on whether or not to implement rules to be enforced by the city.

“The people who profit from this activity should be held responsible for what happens on their property and for the actions of their renters,” said one man.

However, another resident said, “I’m seeing a community that occasionally has problems. I don’t think any of it has to do with short-term rentals.”

Under several proposed plans, the city wants people who started renting their property after Jan. 1, 2017, to obtain a conditional use permit. The permit would come with a list of rules, including limitations on parking spaces, occupancy and a requirement that all renters have a contact person to respond to emergencies in a timely manner.

Those who rented their properties prior to Jan. 1, 2017, would be grandfathered into any new program.

In 2016, officials started looking into short-term rentals after a deadly shooting at an AirBNB.

“A party got out of hand, and perhaps you may remember, the property owner lived in China and there was no property manager,” recalled one woman.

In communities outside the Oceanfront, some people oppose short-term rentals all together. They say the high turnover does not belong in family-oriented neighborhoods.

“The flower beds are not maintained. You don’t see the curtains closing at night. In bad cases, you see parties going on until 3 a.m.”

The city council did not take any action.

A vote is scheduled for later this month, however a bill making its way through the General Assembly is aimed at rolling back regulations to give renters more freedom. House Bill 824, if approved, would supersede any local ordinances. On Tuesday, the House rejected the bill and the Senate requested the bill go back to a committee.

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