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City council approves committee to study proposed ban of some Airbnb’s

Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 7:03 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 20, 2021 at 7:26 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The Columbia City Council met in person for the first time since March 2020 on Tuesday and began reviewing a proposed ban on some short-term rental properties.

The council unanimously voted to approve an ad-hoc committee comprised of Councilmembers Howard Duvall, Will Brennan, and Sam Davis to study a proposed ordinance filed by Duvall.

The proposed ordinance would ban non-owner-occupied short-term rentals in residential areas. It would effectively eliminate Airbnb rentals in neighborhoods for properties where the owners live elsewhere.

The ordinance would also regulate the short-term rental market in Columbia, creating rules over records, safety, insurance, and public nuisances among other topics.

If the regulations are repeatedly violated, the city would be able to pull the rental registration from the homeowner.

“We’ve gotten some complaints from individuals in the neighborhoods, and neighborhood associations, asking us to put some regulations,” Duvall said.

He said the ordinance is a starting point, and there is room for compromise. He also said he expects the study of the ordinance to last months.

The committee was approved without councilmember discussion.

WIS met with short-term rental property owners Noah Harris and Christy Duckett-Harris, who said they owned six applicable properties in city limits. They said their clientele is not responsible for the issues in the neighborhoods, but their business could be impacted nonetheless.

“If there was a complete, all-out ban on short-term rentals it would be very difficult for us to have that property to make sense. If we were to rent it, the rent would not be affordable. They would be very high. If we were to sell it, that house would not be sold at an affordable home price, because those are the numbers,” Noah said.

They said they’d welcome an opportunity to talk middle ground and best practices with the city.

“When I read it, I was like okay there’s obviously room here to meet in the middle. Any reasonable person would see that,” he said.

Christy said a ban would be a financial blow, but it would also impact the couple’s work/home lifestyle which allows them to spend time with their children.

“When I think of time with kids, I grew up in a super traditional family. My father worked, my parents have been married 52 years, my mother stayed home with the kids and we missed a lot because my dad was gone all the time. For us, I knew when I had kids it was super important to really be home with them. To be able to teach them, to be able to talk to them,” she said.

Duvall said the committee meetings will be an opportunity to discuss concerns and recommendations. The dates have not yet been announced.

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