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Raleigh City Council Members Still Don't Know What To Do About Airbnb

The Oakwood Inn Bed and Breakfast in downtown Raleigh
Jorge Valencia

Raleigh council members are continuing to debate how to manage the growing number of homes whose owners are listing on sites such as for short term rentals.

In a report he presented at a council meeting Tuesday, Raleigh Planning Director Travis Crane said the rental listings could represent additional income for property owners and the city, but can generate additional traffic and a parking crunch in residential areas.

Council members can keep existing regulations, expand and define zones where short-term rentals are legal or create new rules for people who want to rent their properties.

But council members postponed any action, sending the short-term rental issue for review in its public safety committee. The issue was not yet re-scheduled for a full council meeting.

"I want the staff to have enough time to prepare," Council Member Mary-Ann Baldwin said. "What I've asked is that we have a thoughtful discussion and look at this from a lot of different perspectives. I'm excited to deal with a very complex problem that I think we can resolve."

Doris Jurkiewicz, who owns the Oakwood Inn Bed and Breakfast in downtown Raleigh, said that this morning she delivered to council members copies of a guest column she wrote for the Raleigh News & Observer, urging them to implement similar permitting requirements for online rental services than they do for her business. For instance, she said, her customers have to pay a User Tax, which is in part used for the city’s tourism recruitment efforts.

“I'm very upset about the meeting because nothing was really resolved,” she said. “I'm going to try to figure out how to get ahold of that committee and keep shaking trees until I can get something going because I really don't want to close.”

Manish Lamba, who lives in the Oakwood neighborhood, spoke before the council, asking them to foster an environment where people will be able to rent out a room or their home using online services, so there would be additional lodging opportunities for visitors to the city. But he said the council should take more time deliberating any action, which could be followed by other cities in the state.

“I think we need to really be thoughtful on our decision,” Lamba said after the hearing. “The only thing that people are talking about is that it's a benefit to the host and the guest and to building a community, but I think there are issues with safety and taxes that haven't been properly vetted yet.”

Jorge Valencia has been with North Carolina Public Radio since 2012. A native of Bogotá, Colombia, Jorge studied journalism at the University of Maryland and reported for four years for the Roanoke Times in Virginia before joining the station. His reporting has also been published in the Wall Street Journal, the Miami Herald, and the Baltimore Sun.
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