Picking up the pieces: Despite Burgess’ exit, the AirBnB legislation lives on

Despite the fact that Tim Burgess has moved up to the 7th floor to inhabit the Mayor’s office, his long-in-the-works ordinance regulating short-term rentals (a la AirBnB, VRBO, and other companies) is far from dead.

Council member Rob Johnson co-sponsored the legislation with Burgess, and today his office confirmed that Johnson intends to carry it forward.

The legislation is actually in three parts: a regulatory structure for short-term rental operators and platforms, a set of land-use code changes to allow for short-term rentals, and a new per-night tax on short-term rentals. Land use code changes are required to have a public hearing before they can be adopted, which lengthens their legislative process. And it’s complicated by the fact that most regular Council business is now suspended until the budget development process concludes at the end of November. Committee meetings can still be scheduled, but they require the approval of the Budget chair (and at the moment there isn’t one). Also, it’s been referred to Burgess’ old Affordable Housing, Neighborhoods and Finance Committee, which has cancelled all its meetings through November and also has no chair; so arcane procedural incantations must be performed to either resurrect that committee, or refer the land use bill to a different committee to complete its legislative journey. The other two bills were passed out of committee last week and are ready for full Council approval — though they too might see additional amendments before being passed into law.

This evening a spokesperson for Johnson told me by email:

“We still intend to move forward with the legislation and are considering when to schedule a vote at Full Council, most likely it will be in October.  (That will be the regulatory bill and the tax bill, the land use bill will most likely have a public hearing during budget with a vote at Full Council in December.)”

Stay tuned.

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