Tybee Island Executives Decide To Limit Short-Term Vacation Rentals In The Neighborhood

Opinion writer Adam Van Brimmer blogs on local topics of interest most weekday mornings in the “Savannah Town Square” Facebook group. The following is an excerpt from one of those messages. Join the group on Facebook.com.

No one appreciates a wise old saying these days, but coming from a farming family, I’ve always loved the one that talks about closing a barn door after the horse has escaped.

The takeaway closes the door at this point is unnecessary. The horse is already gone.

But what if there are still plenty of other horses inside?

Learn more about Tybee and STVRs:Tybee Island council delays vote on cap on short-term vacation rentals – but agrees to limit occupancy rate

Such is the enigma facing Tybee City Council. For too long, the island’s rulers have done little to curb the trend of single-family homes turning into short-term vacation rentals. Even as Tybeeans watched Savannah wrestle with STVRs in the Historic District in 2014 – seven years ago – the island’s top officers did nothing.

Now that more than a third of island residences are STVRs, the government is cracking down. This week the city council imposed an occupancy ceiling and extended a moratorium on the issuance of new STVR permits until April of next year.

An order capping the total number of STVR permits issued per neighborhood is inevitable. It is as it should be. Just because so many horses have left the stable over the past decade doesn’t mean the island should be left open indefinitely.

Tybee City Council Candidates Forum:Hopes address STVR regulations, sustainability

It’s time for Tybee to take his quality of life issue into account. To have neighborhoods with full-time residents littered with vacation rentals is nonsense. As someone who rents STVRs myself, I understand that my behavior during my stay has an impact on the neighbors, and I keep that in mind.

However, I also know that I am the exception to the rule in this regard. While I don’t sit outside playing music and talking loudly after 11pm when I stay in an STVR, others will and will. While I don’t throw litter on the property or park my car in a way that blocks neighbors’ access, others will and will.

This is why I find the pro-STVR “property rights” argument so stupid. What you do on your property can infringe the property rights of neighbors. Hence the need for subdivision agreements and owners’ associations. Hence the existence of ordinances specific to the neighborhoods.

Opinion writer Adam Van Brimmer

This bad neighbor reality is amplified on Tybee, a small island home to locals with stamped property lots. I guess if the city rulers could go back and start all over again, not only would they limit STVRs, but they would also institute wider setbacks in property lines for structures. When houses over a million dollars are stacked on top of each other, that tells you a lot about zoning.

Tybee officials may be late for the STVR restriction game, but they are still right to take action. There are many more horses in this barn.

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