By: Jennifer Britt
In a special meeting Davis Mayor Alan Tomson discussed the on-going dilemma of short-term rentals in the Town of Davis. Before the meeting began Tomson addressed the people in attendance and set some ground rules. There were to be no public comments. More meetings would come in the future with dialog. Tomson went on to explain the Council’s reasoning for putting forth a memorandum concerning short-term rentals.
The Council wants balance between residential and business owners. Tomson stated if short-term rentals take over the charm and character go away from residential communities and how do the residents get to know their neighbors. The Council fears reckless short-term rentals happening in communities without HOAs.
In communities with HOAs they have a set of guidelines residents are bound to under contract and must agree to obey to terms in the agreement. Tomson explained areas with HOAs could have short-term rentals if the HOA allowed them to do so. The Council is hoping to minimize the number of short-term rentals to around 30 in residential areas. That is 10% of the housing currently in Davis. Tomson also explained all current HOA short-term rentals would be grand-fathered.
Sewer and water drainage issues were addressed, and although the Council was working with the DEP it could be a lengthy time before the issues are fixed. Allowing vacant buildings to be used for short-term rentals is an idea the Council is addressing as an option.
Major Tomson agrees that people are leaving big cities,because of COVID, to places less crowded and with fresh air. The up-side to that is the money these renters bring in for the local businesses. The down-side is the price of real estate could potentially sky rocket through the roof.
Mayor Tomson indicated he wants to learn the proper process of short-term rentals and have a compressive plan for the future of Davis, which is why the Council agreed to guest speaker City Attorney, Kin Sayre, addressing the concerns of the residents. Sayre addressed the divided community and the Davis City Council regarding the laws and regulations for short-term rentals.
Sayre explained that the process for regulating short-term rentals. Sayre went on to explain to the Council that the process takes time and has to be done the right way. In his explanation Sayre stated the Council could not change State Code or State Law, and with that the Council could not impose some of the items the Council was trying to mandate.
For instance, the Council wants to charge a special tax just on short-term rentals with special fees for things such as an extra bedroom. Sayre expressed the need for state legislation changes in order to do such things. Sayre suggested to the Council to start with Zoning and then work their way through the process of the proper channels.
Sayre also reminded the Council that the way they do for one they have to do for all. Example of such issue would the house inspections the Council is hoping to impose upon short-term rentals for fire-extinguisher, GFI plugs etc. This cannot be done explicitly for the short-term rentals. It has to be done for all rentals.
After Sayre thoroughly explained the process of the steps the Council needed to take, the Council asked Sayre for his professional opinion and clarification on matters pertaining to short-term rentals. By the adjournment of the meeting the Council has more understanding of the rules and regulations and would take everything they learned from Sayre into consideration.