As the tourist trade continues to grow, Cape Charles, Northampton, and Accomack continue to struggle with the growth and regulation of short-term rentals. Short-term vacation rentals on the Shore are mainly located in residential areas–tourists are using up space that otherwise might be used for the local community. In some places, this is resulting in a decrease in long-term affordable housing available for the local workforce.
Then there’s all the vacation fun. Living next door to a short-term vacation rental can range from mildly concerning to completely life-altering. Visitors are here to party and have fun, which is fine unless it’s happening right next door (at 2 AM). Related complaints about trash, parking issues, and noise disturbance continue to worry local governments.
A recent CBES letter sums it up:
Northampton and Accomack Counties and towns up and down the Shore have been reviewing the regulation of Short-Term Rentals, in large part due to the negative impact of vacation rentals on affordable rentals for Shore citizens, as well as the rights of residents to control transient populations in their established communities.
SB1391 sponsored by Senator Lynwood Lewis will severely limit a locality’s ability to regulate short-term rentals.
Here’s the summary:
Short-term rental property; locality’s ability to restrict property managed by a Virginia realtor.
Provides that a locality may not restrict by ordinance any short-term rental property managed by a Virginia realtor, defined in the bill.
The bill provides that a locality may not enforce an ordinance against such property where the ordinance
i) prohibits short-term rentals;
ii) limits occupancy in a short-term rental property to less than what is allowed under the building code or local zoning regulations;
iii) limits the number of days in a calendar year for which a short-term rental property can be rented;
iv) requires an owner to occupy the short-term rental property as his primary residence for any number of days in a calendar year;
v) requires any type of remote monitoring device to be installed on the short-term rental property, including decibel, audio, or video;
vi) requires exterior or interior inspections of the short-term rental property pertaining to any items defined under the building code more frequently than every five years, unless a complaint has been filed with the locality or building authority;
vii) requires repairs, renovations, or updates to the structure of the short-term rental property that are greater than those required under the applicable building code; or
viii) requires an owner to add additional or otherwise alter existing parking spaces for the short-term rental property.
The provisions of the bill shall apply to any short-term rental property managed by a realtor and operating as such on or after January 1, 2023.
The following letter was sent to Lynwood Lewis, and adequately reflects the concern of many citizens:
I have read through your proposed legislation wrt STR. With my background of having been trained by Dr. Mike Chandler and then serving on the Planning Commission of Northampton County for several years, I firmly believe your proposed legislation is misguided, short-sighted and potentially detrimental to every county in Virginia and all its citizens, with the exception of members of the Realter’s Assn. In addition your introduction creates the appearance of being beholden to the Realter’s Assn and with great disregard for the creation of a good Comprehensive Plan and the Zoning on which it is based.
Both Virginia Beach and Albemarle Co have experimented with loosely controlled STRs and withdrawn when it proved detrimental to their citizens.
Your proposal is a bad piece of legislation and I strongly urge you to withdraw it.