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New Regs Would Ban Apartments From Airbnb, VRBO

city hall
J. Tyler Franklin
Louisville City Hall

A Louisville Metro Council committee is looking to ban nearly all apartments and condominiums from use as short-term rental units.

The council committee on Thursday voted unanimously to block property owners from renting their apartments or condos as short-term rentals, which includes online home rental sites like Airbnb and VRBO, among others.

The decision comes as the council committee is working to solidify an ordinance governing where short-term rental units will be allowed throughout the city. Committee chair James Peden, a Republican representing District 23, called for the provision for "safety reasons."

"I'm looking at it from a family issue, if you don't know who's coming and going," Peden said.

For months, the committee has been working to develop land use policies for the growing industry. Their work stems from a set of ordinances approved late last year by Metro Council to regulate short-term rentals.

One ordinance requires rental property owners to pay a $25 registration fee and adhere to capacity limits and certain safety measures.

Another called on Peden's committee to develop zoning regulations for short-term rentals. Within that task is determining where property owners would need to obtain special permits to operate a short-term rental.

Under the ordinance's current draft, conditional use permits would be required of certain units being rented in areas zoned for residential use. Units being rented in areas zoned for commercial use would be required to adhere to specific standards.

In each zoning district, single-family homes and duplexes would be the only type of dwelling allowed for use as a short-term rental, according to the current draft.

"Anything where you're sharing a wall with anybody" would be prohibited from being turned into a short-term rental under the ordinance's current draft, Peden said.

However, councilman Bill Hollander said there could be an amendment to the ordinance, which would create very strict parameters allowing certain apartments or condos to be used as short-term rentals. Those parameters would require the units to be in specific commercial zoning districts, within 200 feet of a TARC route, less than one mile from a public park, 1,000 feet from five restaurants and within one mile of a local preservation district, Hollander said.

"The idea here is to make a narrow exception to the requirement that you would have to be a single-family residence or duplex," he said, adding each requirement would have to be met.

Peden said those parameters are too narrow.

Hollander said the point of precise exceptions is to allow a handful of existing short-term rental units to continue operating.

"We have not heard any complaints about these properties," said Hollander.

And Peden, who is staunchly opposed to allowing multi-family units as short-term rentals, said he understands units adhering to those parameters are likely ideal places that patrons are seeking to rent when visiting the city.

"We really don't want to try to exclude that," he said.

Peden predicted one more meeting of the committee would be needed before the ordinance is sent to the full council for approval.

Regulations governing short-term rentals are set to take effect Aug. 1.

Jacob Ryan joined LPM in 2014. Ryan is originally from Eddyville, Kentucky. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.