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ACC commissioners move ahead on vacation rental regulations

Regulations on short-term vacation rentals like AirBnBs and VRBOs are likely coming to Athens-Clarke County, after a unanimous vote from the ACC commission on Tuesday.

Affordable housing advocates point to short-term vacation rentals as one of many factors in the county’s growing housing shortage. When property owners elect to rent out housing as short-term rentals, that property is effectively removed from the rental market for residents.

Under a proposal drafted by the commission’s Government Operations Committee, short-term vacation rentals in commercial areas, like downtown Athens, could continue to operate full time.

Homeowners in single-family residential neighborhoods could also periodically rent out their house for a short-term vacation rental, although they couldn’t use the property as a full-time vacation rental. Those homeowners would also have to pay an occupation tax, just like other home-based businesses are supposed to.

The new regulations will not go into effect immediately, however. Tuesday’s vote didn’t change any of the county’s ordinances; it only directs the county’s Planning Commission, along with ACC staff, to draft an ordinance that will go back to commissioners for final approval.

Martin Matheny is WUGA's Program Director and a host and producer of our local news program 'Athens News Matters.' He started at WUGA in 2012 as a part-time classical music host and still hosts WUGA's longest-running local program 'Night Music' which is heard on WUGA and GPB Classical. He lives in Normaltown with his wife, Shaye and dog, Murphy.