The Auburn Planning Commission held its second work session on short-term rentals after its packet meeting on Monday and landed on an approach for regulating the activity in the community.
The conversation on how to regulate short-term rentals has shifted back and forth between taking a more cautious, incremental and restrictive approach and allowing short-term rentals more permissively. The Commission seems to have landed somewhere in the middle.
The Commission seemed to be leaning in the direction of taking a restrictive approach during work sessions before the Covid-19 pandemic hit in mid-March, with the proposal restricting short-term rental activity to just the Urban Core, three Urban Neighborhood districts, and four Corridor Redevelopment Districts. The Commission now seems set to take a more permissive approach, with short-term rentals also being allowed by right in the Redevelopment District, Comprehensive Development District, the South College Corridor District, Rural District, and Medium Density Residential District, as well as in the Neighborhood Redevelopment District and CRD-W east of North Donahue Drive.
No short-term rental activity would be permitted in the city's three primarily residential district designations — Neighborhood Conservation, Limited Development and Development District Housing districts.
The Commission rejected the idea of creating an overlay district to help regulate potentially problematic conflicts with short-term rentals in mixed-use districts that still contain traditional neighborhoods, like in CDD.
"My one concern would be CDD, especially in those neighborhoods that are like Camden Ridge, that are truly single-family neighborhoods," said Planning Commissioner Phillip Chansler, who added that the neighborhoods would fall under the city's occupancy rule of no more than two unrelated people living under a roof instead of the more permissive five unrelated people allowed.
Planning Director Forrest Cotten noted that Camden Ridge should not be affected because the neighborhood underwent a re-zoning.
"Camden Ridge has been taken care of," he said. "The big obvious one to me is Yarbrough Farms, and there are a couple of other smaller ones.
"The only thing I can say to you is we can work with our public information folks to try to find a mechanism to reach out to those HOAs and try to inform them about this proposal in advance to begin to garner their interest to see if we can get their support to undertake some more of these zoning actions like we just did with Asheton Lakes."
Multiple commissioners didn't like the idea of an overlay because it could result in commissioners picking and choosing which properties could take advantage of short-term rentals within a zone.
Under the current agreed-upon proposal, short-term rentals would fall under a homestay definition or be classified as short-term non-primary rentals.
Homestays would be the owner's primary residence and could be rented out in full, or in part, for no more than 120 days per licensing year when the residence is not owner-occupied.
Short-term non-primary rentals are dwellings that are not the primary residence of the owner and would be limited in operation to 240 days each calendar year provided that it is rented out to one party for fewer than 30 consecutive days at a time.
With short-term rental activity down because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Commission opted to put off considering a vote on the changes until its meeting in January.