Airbnb and Homeaway hosts in Kansas City, Mo. are likely to see a set of new regulations for their properties soon.
After more than a year of culling public input, the City of Kansas City, Mo. has drafted a proposed ordinance on how to regulate local home-sharing services like Airbnb and Homeaway.
The proposal would create two regulation classes for hosts and is similar to rules the city proposed in February.
Here’s how the proposal works. Type 1 properties — owner-occupied residences — must apply to the city to rent their place, pay a $100 fee for first-year registration and $50 per year thereafter.
For Type 2 properties — non-owner occupied residences — it’s more complicated. If made law, the city will require Type 2 property owners to apply for a permit, pay a fee of $259 and then get consent signatures from the property’s neighbors. If hosts are unable to receive supporting signatures from 75 percent of the adjacent property owners, the host must go through the Special Use Permit process and have a hearing, for a fee of $596. The permit will be renewable every year for $50.
Both types of permits entail that hosts keep records on each short term stay, logging such information as complaints from guests or neighbors. The records are subject to review by the city at any time.
Airbnb lampooned the proposal.
“While we’re appreciative to the city for the inclusive and transparent process they’ve led to this point, this ordinance as currently written would create one of the most restrictive and burdensome short-term rental regulatory structures in the country,” Airbnb public affairs official Ben Breit said. “We welcome regulations but they should be simple and fair. Our KCMO host community encourages the City to go back to the drawing board.”
Breit said that Airbnb will continue to talk with and advise city officials on prospective regulations. He added that the home-sharing giant also recently released a policy tool chest for cities to reference when drafting rules.
Rick Usher, KCMO assistant city manager for small business and entrepreneurship, said that the proposed regulations actually create a legal avenue for home-sharing services in the area, which is currently illegal. The newly-proposed rules also provide consideration of neighbors, which is currently absent.
“I think there’s some confusion that we’re making the regulations stricter when really the regulation is as strict as it could be right now,” Usher said. “Home-sharing is not legal for most residential districts right now at all. It’s prohibited by the code, but we are defining a path to make it a legal use and still have input from immediate neighbors who may be impacted by the transient visitors coming in and out of their neighborhoods.”
Usher said the recommendations to city council come after more than a year of talking with community members. While neighborhood groups’ input was limited, Usher added that some neighborhood groups called for more information about hosts’ renting their homes.
He emphasized that the recommendations are still only a draft and that it could change.
“This is now where the legislative process begins,” Usher said. “The Kansas City Council will be given a presentation of how we got to this recommendation, the community can come in and talk about their concerns with the draft and maybe where it should go. All of this is to elevate the public conversation so that it can go to the next level. … There is still plenty of time and room for revisions to be made.”
City officials are planning to introduce the proposed ordinance at the Kansas City Planning Commission on June 6. After that, the proposal will head to the Kansas City Council, where it will likely be assigned to the Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee.
As Kansas City Council members debate the ordinance, the public can offer more comments. Once the committee approves the proposed ordinance and any changes, it goes to the full city council for final approval. Staff recommends the short term rental ordinance go into effect 90 days after final approval, city officials said.
Tech leaders in Kansas City had been vocally opposed to the past proposal, however, Startland News has not yet received comment from the KC Tech Council on the new draft.
“We understand the many complexities involved in regulating new business models, especially when they seem to arise overnight,” the council wrote earlier this month. “We recommend the city consider a new regulatory system that meets the public and private needs of these new business models. This may result in the need to update regulations across multiple city departments and possibly state-level changes, which may take time. However, in doing so, Kansas City can serve as an innovative leader in terms of regulating new business models and it can show other cities how to best protect the public while allowing the economy to thrive.”