Claire Haines file photo
Cannonborough-Elliottborough is home to Charleston's only legally allowed short-term rentals
Charleston City Council members moved forward with an earlier, less permissive version of proposed short-term rental rules Monday night.
The rules seek to legalize and regulate short-term rentals, listed on websites such as AirBnB and HomeAway, throughout the city of Charleston.
City Council members and Mayor John Tecklenburg appointed an 18-member Short Term Rental Task Force to draft recommendations in May 2016. Those recommendations were eventually loosened by the Planning Commission
and sent to Council earlier this month.
As dozens of neighborhood association leaders, Short Term Rental Task Force members, and concerned citizens spoke against the Planning Commission's recommendations over the course of nearly three hours, it quickly became clear that Council would need to further tweak the proposed ordinance.
Among the most common complaints was the Planning Commission's decision to allow property owners to rent out their entire homes for up to 72 days a year. This provision, some pointed out, could turn the property next door into a party house for 36 weekends a year.
Another point of contention was the lowering of the age requirement for homes in Class 3 from 50 years to 5 years. Class 3 covers the upper peninsula, West Ashley, James Island, Daniel Island, and Johns Island.
"We believe that 50 year rule across all classes was the best enforceable number we could use," said Ann Hester Willis of the Short Term Rental Task Force. "We were informed that many places like Daniel Island have homeowners association rules that don’t allow short term rentals anyway."
Council member Gary White, who represents Daniel Island and parts of the lower peninsula, said that even the Planning Commission's five-year age requirement might be enough to disqualify a large number of homeowners in his district from making supplemental income by renting out parts of their homes.
Dan Riccio, the city's director of livability and tourism, expounded upon the "instrumental" software that the city plans on using to monitor illegal short-term rentals under the new rules. The software, which is still being developed and tested, would monitor short-term rental listings on a number of websites and provide the exact location of those that do not list a city-approved license number.
The current rules governing short-term rentals and bed and breakfasts in Cannonborough-Elliotborough, which were created in 2012, will stay the same.