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ACC Commissioners debate short-term rental policy due to concern about strapped local housing market

Rafael Henrique
SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Athens-Clarke County commissioners on Tuesday discussed a proposal to address the growing number of short term rental properties – often marketed on websites like AirBnB and VRBO – in the county. As the number of short term rentals, or STRs, has grown in recent years, so have complaints about noise and parking issues in single family neighborhoods. The rising number of STRs has also caused concern about out-of-town landlords and STRs effect on an already-strapped local housing market.

A proposal written by ACC staff and modified by the county’s planning commission would address the issue. It would divide STRs into two categories, owner-occupied and commercial, with different requirements for each. More importantly, commercial STRs would be disallowed in much of the county, including in neighborhoods zoned as single family residential.

While county officials don’t know for sure how many STRs are operating in the county, Planning Director Brad Griffin told commissioners the number is likely in the hundreds, if not more.

“We believe there are probably between 750 and 1,000 of them out there operating in some capacity,” Griffin told lawmakers.

Several commissioners seemed supportive of the plan. District 8 Commissioner Carol Myers compared STRs to hotels.

“We don't allow hotels, we don't allow bed and breakfasts in our residential neighborhoods,” she said.

District 10’s Mike Hamby urged his colleagues to vote on the issue early next month.

“I also think we ought to move forward on this,” Hamby said. “[I] certainly recognize what the folks in Riverbend and Glenwood, in Millage Terrace and and Parkway are dealing with and and and I know they want us to move forward on doing something to to help address this.”

A vote is expected at the Commission’s regular meeting on February 6.

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.
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