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Talent targets Airbnb rentals

Regulations for short-term rentals, which city officials say cause problems for neighbors and deplete long-term rental stock, will be considered during a public hearing before Talent City Council at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Town Hall, 206 E. Main St.

City Manager Sandra Spelliscy said the city has received calls about short-term rentals, largely about parking issues. But one was from a neighbor who said renters came to see how to get in a house when the absent owner hadn’t left keys, she said.

“We know that there are a fair number of rental operations in and around town,” said Spelliscy. “We’ve known for a while we need to make sure they are regulated.”

Under proposed amendments to the city’s zoning code, individuals who want to create short-term rentals would need to seek approval, pay an application fee, pay an annual fee and collect city and state lodging taxes. Only rooms, not whole houses, could be rented.

The rules would cover all residential zones for rentals of less than 30 days. The council could pass a first reading of the rules at the meeting, with the second reading set for Dec. 19.

The Talent Planning Commission recommended the proposed amendments after a public hearing Oct. 25, in which five individuals opposed the rules, four approved of them and three had further questions. Several opponents said they had bought houses in single-family-residence neighborhoods and wanted those standards maintained. Proponents cited varying reasons for their support.

Under the proposed rules, a property owner or lessee must live on the site 270 days out of a year. In addition, if an owner or lessee is absent, another adult representative must be present during rental periods. This provision is to discourage people from buying houses in a town suffering from a rental shortage and turning them into short-term rentals, Spelliscy said.

“It’s to make sure that it is really an owner-occupied business,” she said. “What we are trying to balance is not having people renting houses out as short-term and losing them in the long-term rental market.

“If you take long-term rentals out of the pool it just makes it harder for people to find affordable housing to rent. That’s the balancing act we are trying to do.”

Accessory dwelling units on properties would not be rentable under the provisions. That’s so such units remain available on the long-term market, said Community Development Director Zac Moody. Recent changes in state land-use laws through Senate Bill 1051 have made it easier to create ADUs to help deal with housing shortages.

“People would build ADUs for purposes of short-term rentals, which is in conflict with the Senate bill’s intent,” said Moody. Detached bedrooms could be used but couldn’t have bath or kitchen facilities like an ADU.

Other provisions in the amendments limit leasing to a maximum of three bedrooms and require compliance with off-street parking provisions, maintenance of a guest log, posting of rules and regulations for renters and inspections with 24-hour notices. Posting of signs advertising the accommodations is prohibited. Pre-existing, nonconforming residences used as short-term rentals would be allowed under certain conditions.

Short-term rentals would be approved by the city’s Community Development Department and decisions could not be appealed to the city.

“What we have tried to do there is say you can’t come here and purchase a house in Talent and use it as a short-term rental and never occupy it,” said Moody. “It gives people an option to earn some extra income and provides some extra housing where we don’t have any.”

Reach Ashland freelance writer Tony Boom at tboomwriter@gmail.com.

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