Roeland Park City Council stymied again in finding agreement on Airbnb style rentals in city

Airbnb_PVThe Roeland Park City Council tried again Monday to move toward an agreement about how to handle short-term rentals in the city, such as those found on Airbnb. A new policy could be a long time in the making since the council failed to come to agreement in its second long session on the topic.

A few residents showed up to support the rentals, which are already operating in the city. Cathy Creed said she is a “big fan” of Airbnb as a user as are her children. “They enhance Roeland Park,” Mike Hickey told the council. Another resident said the rentals are “the kind of thing this city should encourage,” saying Roeland Park should be the city of entrepreneurs.

Another resident, though, questioned the effect on neighbors and whether a family with children would feel comfortable living next to one of the rentals. “Please think about the people who live around these houses,” she said. In addition, Councilor Ryan Kellerman read several messages he received from residents who oppose the short-term rentals. One of those messages said, “we don’t want random people coming and going.”

The council had discussed Airbnb rentals earlier this month in another long session and had referred it back to a subcommittee to refine its proposal. When the new recommendation came back Monday night, it still ran into opposition. Kellerman reiterated his position that the existing short-term rentals in the city are illegal and should be stopped. After reading off several code sections, Kellerman said, “everything …. says there is illegal business going on here.”

“This is our third meeting on this and we have not moved forward at all,” Council President Becky Fast told the other members. She tried to work the council through a set of decisions about regulating the business. In the first question, the majority of the council did not want to shut down current Airbnb rentals by enforcing existing ordinances that could be used to stop the rentals.

Other issues the council is discussing are inspections, fees, the amount of time an owner has to live in the home out of each year (to make it owner occupied), length of rental time, posting of permits, notification of neighbors and the number of short-term rentals allowed on any one street.

Councilor Michael Rhoades said he wants neighbors to have some rights to deny a rental permit.

During the discussion of limiting the numbers of short-term rentals, Fast said, “there is a double standard here” between the short-term rentals and long-term rentals that she contended have more impact on the neighborhoods. That led to some sharp exchanges between Fast and Kellerman.

The original proposal for regulating Airbnb type rentals had been to follow the lead of Prairie Village and treat the short-term vacation rentals in the city the same as other rental units. The council will take up the discussion again at a future workshop session.