Roeland Park grapples with whether to allow Airbnb rentals that current code prohibits

Even though the city already has one Airbnb rental listed, the Roeland Park City Council Monday decided to do more research before moving to make the rentals legal under city code.

AirBNBUnder current city code, boarding houses and bed and breakfasts are not allowed in the city. The code prohibits both “boarding houses” and “tourists homes” by name. It also specifies that any home occupation cannot use “more than 25 percent of the floor area of the dwelling.”

A Roeland Park resident, Diane Mora, who has not listed her house yet on Airbnb, appeared before the council to ask for approval. Mora said, as a teacher, she would like to use the spare bedroom in her house to supplement her income. She saw that one Roeland Park house is already listed, but “wanted to do the right thing” and come to the city for permission.

Mora said vacation rentals by owner and Airbnb rentals are “prolific” and that she has traveled all over by staying at them. “It’s really a home to stay in rather than a traditional bed and breakfast,” Mora told the council. Airbnb has nearly a million listings in more than 30,000 cities around the world.

The idea of allowing Airbnb rentals in the city did have some support on the council. Both councilors Teresa Kelly and Becky Fast said they wanted to see it move forward. “I think it is a positive step for the city and I would like to move on it,” Kelly said.

Fast said she was “highly supportive” and wanted Roeland Park to be a city that promotes the idea rather than makes it difficult.

Other councilors, though, said they wanted more research done on the idea before changing the code to allow the rentals. One issue mentioned was what kind of tax might apply. The resident said the tax issue was one reason she approached the city initially.

Mayor Joel Marquardt had proposed granting approval on a temporary basis, for up to a year, but that was opposed by councilor Michael Rhoades and did not gain traction.

“There is a lot more research to be done,” councilor Ryan Kellerman said. He also suggested it could be a zoning issue for the city. “This could open up a can of worms.”

Councilors Michael Poppa, Kelly and Erin Thompson agreed to research the issue and report to the full council with a recommendation.