People with strong opinions on both sides of the short term rental debate lined up to address Metro Council members in a lengthy meeting.
Three bills addressing the future of short term rentals in Nashville were on the agenda. The public hearing portion of the meeting lasted more than three hours.
The bill that received the most attention would impact the future of short term rental homes in residential neighborhoods that are not occupied by an owner.
Bill 608 would specifically address short term rental properties that are not owner occupied. It would allow current permit holders to renew their permits through 2019, but would set a phase out date for permits in 2021.
The bill does not affect short-term rental homes that are occupied by the owner.
“The phase out option makes it fair to people who have invested in these properties,” said Larry Hagar, a Metro Council Member who is sponsoring the bill. “These types of short term rentals were designed to supplement income. What has happened is it has turned into a business.”
Members of Nashville Neighborhood Alliance, an organization of neighborhood activists agree. Many people who live in East Nashville and 12 South said short term rentals are widespread in their areas. They said now commercial businesses are operating out of residential neighborhoods, and the neighborhoods need to be protected. In many cases, the rental properties turn into party houses that disrupt the neighborhoods.
“Replacing residents with tourists weakens the long term fabric of our neighborhoods,” said Randall Gilbert, an East Nashville resident. “Our neighborhoods are too great to sacrifice in this way.”
Representatives from Airbnb and the Nashville Area Short-Term Rental Association have fought the proposal. They argued that the majority of these properties are operated correctly, and many people rely on the properties for income. The best option would be one that balances private property rights and neighborhood quality of life.
“This is life changing for me,” said Jennifer Ives, who operates a short term rental. “This is a plan that would devastate my family, devastate my investment, and I have followed the letter of the law since the beginning.”
Metro Council members were scheduled to vote on the issue after the public hearing concluded.