Virginia Beach City Council agrees on new rules for short term rentals — but not everyone is happy

VIRGINIA BEACH — City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to send new short term rental rules to the city’s Planning Commission for review.

The move comes after several attempts to regulate home sharing and short term rental use failed to gain traction.

Not everyone is happy with the city’s latest proposals, which impose restrictions on the number of contracts that homeowners can have and the number of guests staying on properties.

In response to the vote, the Sandbridge Beach Civic League passed a vote of no confidence on Councilwoman Barbara Henley, stating the league believes the regulations she voted for “would have a dire and adverse impact to the Sandbridge economy, affecting jobs and real estate value.”

Related story: Virginia Beach to rework short-term rental rules after passage of state bill

Henley represents the Princess Anne District, which includes Pungo and Sandbridge. She did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

City Council and the planning commission have been deliberating short-term rental regulations for most of 2018. However, the citywide discussion dates back to April 2016.

That was when Darren Campbell, a 20-year-old student from Old Dominion University, was shot to death during a party at a Virginia Beach house rented through Airbnb. His death inserted a sense of urgency into the conversation at that time.

Since then, Henley has commented on “neighborhood safety” during City Council meetings as a primary reason behind her support of stricter regulations.

The city’s discussions on how to regulate short-term rentals has become complex, with Mayor Louis Jones, council members, the city’s Planning Commission, and even the General Assembly holding different opinions on about what rules would be appropriate or legal.

In April, there were three separate sets of proposed regulations simultaneously, none of which are now under consideration.

Related story: These proposed rules could change what’s allowed in Virginia Beach homes

The district contains contains 632 short-term rental homes, or 37 percent of the city’s total short-term rental properties, according to the number of registered homes with the Commissioner of the Revenue’s office. Only the Beach District — which includes the Oceanfront and Shore Drive areas — has more short-term rentals than Princess Anne.

The Planning Commission is reviewing the proposed ordinances that were passed Tuesday by City Council.

Any changes or recommendations by the Planning Commission will be sent back to City Council for approval or denial.

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