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Virginia Beach City Council will soon vote on updated short-term rental regulations

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Posted at 3:18 PM, Jun 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-23 17:28:34-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - In what's become an emotional and complicated issue, city council members are scheduled to vote on updating short-term rental regulations early next month.

The issue has been talked about for months following complaints of partying, loud noises and other issues from properties listed on sites like Airbnb and VRBO.

During a city council meeting Tuesday, council members held a long discussion about finalizing the regulations they will vote on next month.

The latest proposal calls for short-term rentals to only be allowed in the North End, the Oceanfront and Sandbridge. Sandbridge follows a different part of the law, allowing property owners more leeway in listing their properties.

In the North End and Oceanfront, the areas would be put into what are called "overlay districts." Then, property owners could apply to the city for a conditional use permit to operate their home as short-term rentals.

STRs would not be allowed in other parts of the city unless they're grandfathered in, but residents of different areas could petition the city to become an overlay district if 75% of residents agree. The ordinance would also add regulations aimed at addressing safety concerns.

The issue appears to have grown most controversial in the North End.

"It's just insane to be able to ruin a residential neighborhood and be able to turn it into a commercial neighborhood and see the quality of life of people go down," said John David, the head of the North Virginia Beach Civic League, who does not want the North End to be placed into an overlay.

During Tuesday's discussion, some city council members questioned whether citizens should have more of a say in where the overlay districts are.

"I think the right way to do it is if the neighborhood petitions for it and I think it should be at least 75%," said Councilmember Barbara Henley.

Enforcement continues to also be a concern. On Tuesday, a city staffer told the council more than 200 properties were not registered with the city in the North End last fall.

"It's mind blowing their enforcement is nil. It's none," said David.

Councilman Aaron Rouse responded to that figure with a potential solution.

"I think as a suggestion it'd be really smart on our end to create an STR enforcement office," he said.

While parts of the Resort City have always been rented out, the neighbors here say online sites have led to more issues.

"That's a total game changer. It's completely different," said David.

City Council is scheduled to vote on July 6.