Planning commission favors vacation rental changes

STAFF REPORT
Posted 2/19/18

ORANGE BEACH – The Orange Beach Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend the city council adopt an additional ordinance on vacation rentals in the resort town.

In December the council …

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Planning commission favors vacation rental changes

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ORANGE BEACH – The Orange Beach Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend the city council adopt an additional ordinance on vacation rentals in the resort town.

In December the council placed a moratorium on issuance of any new short-term rental business licenses so the changes could be crafted and put into place. There are about 250 properties located in city neighborhoods used as vacation rentals. Council members and Mayor Tony Kennon said at the time vacationers were causing problems with noise, wayward parking and unruly behavior in the residential areas.

The proposed ordinance includes creating a new category for vacation rentals in neighborhoods for 14 days or less with a $1,000-a-year license. The current short-term license, which will remain in place for all other vacation licenses, is for rentals of six months or less and cost $132 a year. The City Council set a public hearing for the ordinance at its Tuesday meeting.

All of the properties currently licensed in neighborhoods will be grandfathered in, but no new ones will be issued in certain zoning districts throughout the city.

Prohibited areas include all areas zoned single-family residential or mobile home subdivision. Short-term vacation rentals will still be allowed in areas zoned multi-family, mobile home park, beach resort, marine resort, neighborhood business, recreational vehicle park, agriculture and general business.

The Baldwin County Board of Realtors has expressed opposition to the move urging the council to step up enforcement of those causing the problems and continue to allow the short-term vacation rentals in residential areas.

BCAR President Troy Wilson also asked in December if the council would allow transferring of the license to a new owner. He said rental houses are priced 40 to 60 percent higher than those used primarily as residences. Homes currently holding short-term licenses would lose those if the property changes hands, are renovated to add more sleeping rooms or are severely damaged.

Kennon said those are businesses operating in a neighborhood and the new rules are designed to limit those uses in residential areas.

“This is a business evaluation and a residential evaluation,” Kennon said. “The value of that home is safe. If they sell that, they will make money. It still has the intrinsic value of Orange Beach property.”

Councilwoman Annette Mitchell, who is also a member of the planning commission, said the city wants vacation rentals out of city neighborhoods.

“We are very, very serious about this,” Mitchell said. “We are very committed to the promise we’ve made to protect neighborhoods.”

All nine of the commissioners were present at the meeting but one, Jimmy Boyd, recused himself from the discussion because he is a Realtor. The recommendation passed 8-0.

The National Board of Realtors along with the Baldwin County Association of Realtors and the Alabama Association of Realtor have waged an active campaign against the proposed ordinance. Included in the effort were full-page color advertisements in Gulf Coast Media newspapers and a mail out to Orange Beach residents urging them to “support responsible vacation residential rental homes.”