Monday, September 21, 2015

AirBNB, Should You Be Free To Allow Guests In Your Own Home?

If So... Should You Be Forced To Jump Through Government Hoops To Do It?

 At a recent meeting of the Roanoke City Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA)(1), three people will be prostrating themselves before some local bureaucrats to plead for the special privilege of having guests in their own homes.(2)
Back on July 6th, City Council officially allowed citizens to rent extra rooms in their houses on websites like AirBnB.(3) (In case this is your first time on the internet, people use websites such as
AirBnB to make some extra money on the side. Despite the Council’s vote appearing to approve of this, the City does everything they possibly can to get in the way of it actually happening.  The blame for this falls squarely on our city manager, Chris Morrill.
In order to be able to have a guest in your house from a website such as AirBnB(4), you must:
Have a pre-filing conference with the zoning administrator,
Fill out an application and pay an application fee of $100,
Give a written narrative of exactly what you are going to do inside your personal home.
You also must follow the recently established “Four Written Standards for Homestay Establishments”:

That no changes shall be made to the exterior of the building.
That it shall have no more than 4 guests total and no more than 2 bedrooms for guests.
That they shall be not rented for more than 14 days.
That the owner must also occupy the dwelling during the time the guest is there (This is not the national standard. Some leave and let them rent the whole house, some stay and do it more like a bed and breakfast).
You then are required to submit a drawing, to scale, of the property interior. There are several other criteria that must accompany the drawing about the property.  There are some other hoops as well.  The City Manager also wants to confirm

That having guests in your home does not create an unusual demand on public water and sewer that exceeds the design capacity of the systems,
That it will not generate traffic on neighborhood streets or main roads that exceed the design capacity of the streets or create a dangerous traffic problem by virtue of driveway location, site clearance, driveway slope or any other factors,
That it does not increase the flood potential in the surrounding neighborhood and is also in conformance with the setback, yard, frontage, lot area, parking, signage, screening, shading, etc.
Yes, all of this is required to be able to have guests in your own personal home.  A final requirement is it must further the intent of the city’s comprehensive plan by bringing business to local business owners and also exposure to less popular parts of town. Isn’t that great? The city is doing all of this to help businesses!

The municipal regulations outlined above were not voted on by the city council. This tyranny is coming from the zoning department and city manager who heads all of the offices.   Our local power-hungry bureaucrats like nothing better than to make the people they purport to serve jump through unnecessary hoops to share their home with others and make a little pocket money on the side.


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