City Council Developing Consensus on Regulations for Short-Term Rental Properties

There are two items on the Tuesday, July 3 City Council agenda related to the issue of short-term rentals. During the informal session, City Council will continue the discussion from the June 26 workshop about how to regulate short-term rentals. The second item, on the formal agenda, is an ordinance City Council plans to deny. It was deferred from the June 5, 2018 agenda and asks City Council to consider amendments and additions to the City Zoning Ordinance that address short term rental regulations.

“We have been wrestling with the issue for more than two years because it is an especially complex set of circumstances for Virginia Beach,” said Mayor Louis Jones. “After reviewing the research, listening to citizens, evaluating legislation the General Assembly recently passed, considering several alternative ordinances and surveying members of the Council on options, we are finally making progress toward determining what regulations would be most appropriate for Virginia Beach.”

In 2017, the Council referred three alternative ordinances regulating short-term rentals to the Planning Commission for review and recommendations. The Commission developed a fourth alternative it presented to the City Council for its consideration on March 6, 2018, and a final vote was scheduled for March 20. City Council deferred action on those alternatives to allow additional input.

“The July 3 formal agenda item is really a procedural vote—we need to reject the other proposed ordinances so we can continue working on an entirely new draft,” said Vice Mayor Jim Wood. “That does not mean the prior work and input was wasted. In fact, the new ordinance we began outlining during our June 26 workshop builds on all of the research, input and recommendations we have received from residents and members of the Planning Commission.”

While the practice of homeowners offering residential units for short-term rentals through online platforms like Airbnb and Homeaway is widespread, there is no provision in the City Code that actually allows it. The City Council is addressing specific elements that focus on regulating the short-term rental industry in Virginia Beach. It is an especially complex issue that requires addressing everything from personal property rights, individuals’ rights to private enjoyment of their properties and safety concerns to taxation, City Code and City Zoning Ordinance enforcement and permitting. Earlier this year, the General Assembly passed a bill that prevents the City from requiring special-use permits for rentals in Sandbridge, which left the question open for what to do in the rest of the city.

Council is working toward having a draft ordinance later this summer.