The question of whether short-term rentals should be allowed in all parts of Enterprise was the subject of differing views at Enterprise’s city council meeting on October 19.
Questions that are not necessarily on the agenda can be addressed by citizens during the “speaking privilege” part of each meeting of the municipal works council. The pros and cons of short-term rental in residential areas was the issue brought to the council table at the second voting meeting in October.
The council ultimately votes on recommendations made by the Planning Commission which is the entity that holds public hearings on issues regarding changes to existing zoning ordinances and reviews subdivision bylaws for the city. The issue of short-term leasing should first be brought to this body for consideration, Enterprise City Council Chairman Turner Townsend said after each of the citizens’ presentations.
“This is obviously a contentious issue. It’s going to be controversial. We will have to make compromises, ”he said. “This is the start. It’ll probably start in the planning commission because they’re the ones dealing with the zoning issues, but it’ll end up on our desk and we’ll be the decision-makers, so we’ll do our homework.”
Townsend said contact details for council members can be found on the town’s website. “Come closer to us,” he encouraged. “Any regulation currently in force can and should be applied. We are decision makers, we are not policy enforcers. If the laws are broken, call the city.
The problem is a home on 107 Lake Ridge Drive in Enterprise whose owners have listed the residence as a short-term rental, sometimes referred to as an airbnb.
Airbnb, Inc. is a San Francisco, California-based company that operates an online marketplace for short-term accommodation, but the word is often used synonymously with short-term rentals.
“As a group we are ready to talk to everyone, but this is something new and people fear what they don’t understand,” said Kristie Long, owner of 107 Lake Ridge Drive, who added that she and her husband had recently moved to Fort Rucker. .
“Airbnb is a rental option that allows owners to have significant control over one of their most valuable financial assets,” Long told the board. “Landlords choose short term rental over long term rental as they can ensure their property is well maintained and in the rare event that a tenant is unruly the tenant can be kicked out of the property quickly and with little resistance.
“The benefits of airbnb on the community are endless,” she said. “The owners furnish their rentals with local furniture, soaps and works of art. We employ a variety of companies to clean, maintain yards, do laundry, and improve our rentals. The better our properties are kept, the better our reviews will directly affect the number of bookings we can get.
“People from all over the world are traveling to Enterprise for flight school graduation ceremonies, sporting events and travel jobs,” Long said. “They stay in the city which has a reputation for upholding the rights given to us by God and our ancestors. These rights include our property rights, the right to control, and the right to allow others to use our property, which are just two of these rights.
Long gave each of the board members a copy of the Alabama Supreme Court decision in Slaby v Mountain River Estates. “In this case, it has been established that airbnb as well as other short-term rental possibilities are considered residential use. This 2012 case prioritizes short-term rentals in Alabama.
“In response to the possibility of tax regulations being imposed on short-term rentals, I am still against taxing people in unnecessary proportions. This use of the property falls under the Alabama Accommodation Tax Act, which Airbnb has committed to pay on my behalf, ”Long added. “The City of Enterprise also has a 9% tax law, so every time my guest goes shopping or dines out they have to pay this 9% tax. “I am for preventing any additional tax. I want this to be clear, but it is to be discussed. We are all here for everyone’s sake, ”Long said. “Creating orders and taxing unreasonably hinders the progress and growth of businesses. “
Kathy Pattie, a resident of 105 Lake Ridge Drive, presented council with a petition signed by residents of the neighborhood who oppose any residence in the neighborhood being used for short-term rentals.
“The things that are right are done in the light and the things that you know to be wrong you keep them hidden for as long as you can,” Pattie said, noting that the neighbors have learned about the use of Long’s house. as short term rental via social media. groups. “Our neighborhood sanctuary is currently under threat from the owners of 107 Lake Ridge Drive.
“Without telling anyone in the neighborhood, they listed their house as temporary accommodation on Airbnb and VRBO. The ad features images, some of which imply that my garden came with the case. Most worrying is that it is advertised on Facebook as a location for bachelor / bachelorette parties, weekend getaways on the lake, and venues for other events that will completely crowd the streets as it doesn’t. ‘there’s nowhere to park,’ Pattie said. “We are anything but a passing neighborhood. The vast majority of people on my street have lived there for over 20 years. It’s calm and family-friendly.
“We only found out about this proposed use when several (neighborhood) residents received the list on social media,” Pattie added. “So far, the owners haven’t told anyone about their project, even their closest neighbors.
“It took a night to ruin the peace and sanctity of our neighborhood,” she said, showing council a video that a short-term tenant uploaded via social media inviting friends to a party at the residence. “It was a big blow. Snoop would have been proud to be invited, ”she said, referring to an American rap musician. “There was so much smoke coming out of this house that neighbors passing by said they were about to have a ‘contact high’.
Pattie said the neighborhood is the R-100 zone. “According to the definition provided, this means” to provide and preserve land for the purposes of single-family dwelling units and other compatible uses. ” It would seem that using this house as a vacation rental defies being one family and defying the word habitation since they will only be staying a few nights, ”she said, adding that the city code dictates the number of short-term parking spaces. term rentals. “There is only space for two tightly parked cars at the house, and any additional parking should overflow onto the street.
“Please help us preserve our real estate values, our quiet and peaceful neighborhood, and the personal safety of all residents by turning down this business in our residential neighborhood,” Pattie said. “We are asking that the zoning ordinances in place be enforced and that you realize that this is a bed and breakfast, motel or rooming house. It’s definitely anything but a single family home.
Other citizens who said they own short-term rentals or manage short-term rentals for landlords spoke out in favor of allowing the 111 short-term rentals currently operated in Enterprise to continue to do it. “Steps need to be put in place to prevent the kinds of activities that Ms. Pattie was referring to,” said Cara Catrett, who has managed short-term rentals in three states for the past 15 years. “I ask you not to adopt a broad ban on them.”
The next meeting of the Business Planning Commission will be held on November 23 at 4:30 p.m. in the boardroom of the Enterprise Town Hall.
The next Enterprise Town Council meeting will take place on November 2 in the Enterprise Town Hall Council Chamber. A working session begins at 5:00 p.m. A voting session begins at 6:00 p.m. Both sessions are open to the public.