Burlington to consider new limits on short-term rentals

Published: Feb. 21, 2022 at 5:21 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - After years of discussion, the Burlington City Council could weigh in on the regulation of short-term rentals Tuesday night.

The statewide proposal to regulate short-term rentals failed on the governor’s veto but Burlington continued to pursue regulating in a city that has a significant housing crisis.

“Is this the answer? Absolutely not, but if we are preserving 30 units, that’s worth doing,” said Joan Shannon, D-Burlington City Council.

Shannon says she’s backing a plan to severely limit the use of short-term rentals, such as Airbnbs. Her proposal could be voted on by the full City Council Tuesday, restricting short-term rentals to three rooms in owner-occupied units, or the renting out of the full owner-occupied unit when the owner is away.

Shannon says her proposal will help address the city’s housing crunch.

“It’s hard to develop anything, it’s hard to build anywhere, certainly in any volume. People don’t like large developments in their backyard in Vermont. So the lowest-hanging fruit is preserving the housing units that we have and that’s what this is an effort to preserve, the housing units that we have,” Shannon said.

Julie Marks, the executive director of the Vermont Short-Term Rental Alliance, says offering apartments to vacationers is not the cause of Burlington’s housing problems. She points to outdated city policies.

“Adjust and update those zoning regulations to allow for more construction of new housing and more renovation, easier renovation of existing housing that needs upgrading to become habitable again,” Marks said.

She says this will cause the city to potentially lose more than $100,000 from taxes off short-term rentals. Marks says it will impact traveling professionals who are vising the city for weeks at a time and tourism dollars which will no longer come into the city when people cannot find the kind of accommodations they want.

“There’s going to be a lot of impacts beyond housing that are going to potentially have negative consequences for the community at large,” Marks said.

Shannon does say that once the housing stock increases, she would be in favor of rolling back these regulations.

There are also other amendments on the docket for Tuesday’s meeting. One from a democratic councilor would make this less restrictive, allowing owners to be off-site if there was also an affordable unit, as well.

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Burlington considers short-term rental crackdown

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