Showdown over the future of short-term rentals in Burlington

BURLINGTON, Vermont (WCAX) — A showdown over the future of Airbnbs in Burlington Monday night — Mayor Miro Weinberger will officially veto an ordinance that would have wiped out most short-term rentals. But the city council could try to override the veto or there could be a compromise afoot.

City councilors say a derogation vote will take place after the mayor vetoes the recently passed ordinance limiting short-term rentals.

However, the council needs a two-thirds majority vote to continue on the path it charted a month ago.

The city council passed the short-term rental ordinance in February. This would limit short-term rentals to just bedrooms in owner-occupied units or an entire house if the owner is away.

As of last fall, city data showed 246 short-term rentals in the city. Only 20% of these are room rentals in owner-occupied accommodation.

Councilors who support the ordinance say their aim is to make more flats available for long-term rentals to help address the city’s housing shortage.

“If I told you, I have a way to put hundreds of homes on the market in a few months, why wouldn’t we do it,” said Joan Shannon of D-Burlington City Council.

Mayor Miro Weinberger says he supports regulating short-term rentals but wants to allow entire, separate units to be rented on owner-occupied property.

He says property owners may be more likely to create duplexes or triplexes if they can subsidize the cost with at least one unit being a short-term rental.

In a statement, Weinberger, D-Burlington, said, “I fear that we are effectively putting in place new barriers to the creation of new homes, compounding the very problem that the (short-term rental) restrictions seek to address. “

If the veto is upheld, the city says it will regulate current short-term rentals to existing standards defined by zoning as bed and breakfasts or motels.

Shannon says maintaining the status quo will do nothing to solve the city’s affordable housing problem.

“It will continue conversations between existing housing and bed and breakfasts and I think it’s going to really hurt tenants in our community,” she said.

The waiver would require the eight councilors who voted for the ordinance to vote that way again.

I contacted all the advisors on Monday. Those who responded said they would stick to their original votes.

Also on the agenda for Monday night’s city council meeting – review parking regulations on North Winooski Avenue that were previously denied. It’s a fight over whether parking should be removed for a dedicated bike lane that has irritated some residents.

Additionally, there is the mayor’s proposal to build a low barrier shelter for the homeless in the Old North End. The city council will also discuss this plan.

Related stories:

Burlington considering new limits on short-term rentals

Burlington is considering a crackdown on short-term rentals

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