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Council is scheduled to vote on a substitute short-term rental bill next month.
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Council is scheduled to vote on a substitute short-term rental bill next month.

Short-term rental bill headed back to council

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After hearing a remanded substitute bill on short-term rental properties in Springfield at its meeting last week, the city’s Planning & Zoning Commission has changed its recommendation.

The commission voted 5-3 in favor of the substitute bill, with Dee Ogilvy, Natalie Broekhoven and Britton Jobe voting in opposition. Previously, the commission had voted 8-0 against short-term rentals. Chairman Randy Doennig was absent from the Dec. 6 meeting.

The substitute bill is now headed to City Council, which is scheduled to vote on the issue Jan. 14.

Council tabled the original short-term rental ordinance on Nov. 19 and remanded the substitute bill to P&Z at the same meeting.

The proposed change in the substitute bill for Type 1 short-term rental properties would allow unlimited rentals with an accessory apartment located at a primary structure or a carriage house when the owner is present on the premise. Type 1 properties are those that are primarily owner-occupied.

Changes to Type 2 short-term rentals would remove the 500-foot separation requirement, with council recommending a density requirement instead. The density requirement would not apply to Type 1 or Type 3 short-term rentals. The density requirement would limit no more than one Type 2 per eight residential structures on a block face, or one side of the street between two intersections, according to city documents. Type 2 rentals are those that aren’t primary residences of the owners.

No Type 2s could exist on a block face with fewer than four residential structures. A grace period of 30 days for implementation of the density limitation for Type 2s also would be established.

The protest period for short-term rentals would be changed to a consent provision where Type 2 operators would need a notarized affidavit with the signatures of 55 percent of adjacent residential property owners, according to city documents.

A clarification also was added stating advertising or promoting a noncompliant short-term rental using a third-party intermediary like Airbnb would be an ordinance violation.

Commissioner Cameron Rose changed his vote to yes after hearing the substitute bill.

“There’s been real progress made here,” he said. “I would acknowledge there’s probably some issues that we could probably spend the next year debating and trying different things before we implemented anything, but to my feeling on it, I think we’re close enough that we can try.”

Rose said the current situation in not acceptable and wanted to give guidance to those who want to operate short-term rentals.

Commissioner Jobe explained why he kept his opposing vote, saying the bill has made some progress but “in other ways it’s gone backwards.”

“I’ve got real concerns with the 55 percent sort of reverse protest that appears to have no precedent in our city code,” he said. “I can tell you there’s three non-starters in here for me. The first is what I just mentioned about the 55 percent requirement. The second is the neighborhood meetings for a Type 2, and the third is a business license for a Type 1.”

Jobe agreed that Type 2 operators should have a business license and that short-term rentals need regulation, but was worried about the substitute bill not meeting concerns heard by the commission from residents.

“I have some frustration that we have sat though collectively hours of comments and concerns from citizens about what problems and issues short-term rentals are creating, and I don’t see a connection between what this is doing and what those concerns are,” he said.

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