Boise City Council to review rules on short-term rentals

title=wpil_keyword_linkshort-term rentals in the city. Vacasa housekeeper Paula Davis prepares a downtown Boise apartment for short-term vacation rentals in 2015.” title=”The Boise City Council may soon pass an ordinance regulating short-term rentals in the city. Vacasa housekeeper Paula Davis prepares a downtown Boise apartment for short-term vacation rentals in 2015.” loading=”lazy”/>

The Boise City Council may soon pass an ordinance regulating short-term rentals in the city. Vacasa housekeeper Paula Davis prepares a downtown Boise apartment for short-term vacation rentals in 2015.

Idaho Statesman

Over the past several months, Chris Runyan has made presentations to Boise neighborhood associations on the need for the city to regulate short-term rentals, where rooms, apartments or entire homes are converted into vacation rentals and booked using platforms such as Airbnb and Vrbo.

Runyan, an East End homeowner and member of Protect Boise Neighborhoods, said he’s noticed an increase in short-term rentals in his neighborhood. In response, his organization gave several presentations and called city leaders in an attempt to push the issue of short-term rentals. He didn’t get many responses.

“It’s been very difficult to get anyone’s attention on this issue,” Runyan said by phone.

However, he may soon get his wish.

Boise City Council leaders say an ordinance providing for new regulations on short-term rentals is expected to come before the council in the coming months. While the exact wording is still being drafted, board approval would cement the controversial industry’s first regulation in the Idaho capital.

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The Boise City Council plans to vote on a possible short-term rental ordinance that would regulate Airbnbs, like the one pictured above, which could include compulsory licensing for landlords. Catherine Jones [email protected]

“We think everyone would be better off … if we ensure these properties are appropriately licensed and insured,” Council Chair Elaine Clegg said.

Clegg said the ordinance would likely include requirements for those operating short-term rentals to obtain a license from the city and show proof of insurance. These closely resemble the provisions of a draft ordinance presented at a council working session in October.

Council members are split on the ordinance, with Patrick Bagant and Holli Woodings saying there’s little evidence that short-term rentals are a problem the city needs to address. Mayor Lauren McLean said an order would provide data to see if there is a problem.

This isn’t the first time Boise elected officials have considered regulating the short-term rental industry. In 2019, former mayor David Bieter proposed much tougher regulations, which included requiring operators to live in their units. Bieter ended plans to introduce bylaws before the city council after a backlash from groups such as the Boise Regional Realtors.

McLean had said during her 2019 mayoral campaign that she would seek to regulate short-term rentals. She criticized Bieter, his opponent, when he backed out of his plan.

Short-term rentals anger many Boiséans

As Treasure Valley continues to struggle with a massive shortage of affordable housing, some advocates have pointed to industry regulation as a way to free up new units for potential tenants and homeowners.

Communities across the country have tried to limit the number of short-term rentals, believing they are shrinking the housing market and driving up prices. This has led communities like Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Breckenridge, Colorado to put in place a maximum number of short-term rentals allowed.

But while many other cities in Idaho — like Sandpoint and Rexburg — have regulations, Boise has none so far, making it one of the largest cities in the country with no rules on the industry.

There is very little public data on short-term rentals in Boise, but there could be over 1,000 scattered across the city, according to AirDNA, a service that analyzes short-term rentals in different markets. Many are located in the northern and eastern districts, close to the city center.

And there could be growing interest in investment properties in these neighborhoods. Ada County Assessor Bob McQuade said over the past three months he has heard of more properties being purchased as investments.

Amy Allgeyer, president of the North End Neighborhood Association, is an architect who says she’s seeing more and more clients building auxiliary dwellings, or ADUs, on their properties. Typically, ancillary units were used as long-term rentals or office space, but an increasing number are used as short-term rentals.

“I do twice as many ADUs like I did three years ago,” Allgeyer said. “The Airbnb thing isn’t new, but it seems like it took a while to hit Boise, and I’m seeing more of it.”

Would the regulations violate Idaho State Code?

But one question has been a sticking point in attempts to regulate the short-term rental industry: How legal is it in Idaho?

A 2017 Idaho law prohibits cities and counties from prohibiting short-term rentals in their jurisdictions, except where public health and safety are affected. Council member Patrick Bagant interprets this to mean that even requiring a license could limit the number of short-term rentals, in violation of the law.

“Anything you do that specifically targets short-term rentals will have the effect of regulating the short-term rental market,” Bagant said by phone. “I don’t think the evidence is as clear that the community perception is that short-term rentals cause harm.”

Not everyone agrees. Clegg said the regulation would help address safety issues, such as ensuring that fire alarms and smoke detectors are present, and is therefore permitted by law.

Rural towns in Idaho start implementing rules

Boise isn’t the only city in Idaho having this debate. Ketchum City Council is also given an order this would require short-term rental units to have an annual permit with the city. Additionally, residential areas could only have one short-term rental per plot and would be limited to a two-night stay.

Ketchum’s proposed prescription received negative reactions from some landlords and the Idaho Association of Realtors. An attorney for the association emailed the city Dec. 6 saying the ordinance would effectively bar certain short-term rentals in violation of Idaho law.

“Targeting a property simply because of its use as a short-term rental rather than for health and safety reasons is precisely what (Idaho law) seeks to prevent,” said Jason Risch, the attorney. , in the email.

But Ketchum City Administrator Jade Riley said Idaho law also allows cities to require business licenses from any industry in their jurisdiction and those rules protect the safety of residents and guests. , while ensuring that owners pay their required taxes.

“What we’re putting in place is pretty standard in the industry,” Riley said. “We just want to have better data and a better sense of comfort that people are paying their taxes.”

Clegg said she has yet to receive communication from any realtor association regarding a proposed ordinance in Boise.

How the Boise City Council will vote on a short-term rental ordinance is unclear, but it’s unlikely to be unanimous. Bagant said he supports private property rights and would need more evidence to back up the regulations.

“I don’t think… the city council has anything to do with coming into my house and asking for my documents,” he said.

When asked if she had the votes to pass the ordinance, Clegg said she didn’t know.

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Joni Auden Land covers Boise, Garden City and Ada County. Do you have a story suggestion or a question? Email Land at [email protected]

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