Updated Feb 20, 4:20 PM; Posted Feb 20, 4:17 PM
By Drew Broach
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Airbnb, HomeAway and other short-term rentals would be outlawed in single-family housing neighborhoods in unincorporated Jefferson Parish under an ordinance the Parish Council will consider Wednesday (Feb. 21). The 24-page proposal, the result of two years of study, represents Jefferson's first comprehensive attempt to regulate the burgeoning vacation rental segment of the U.S. economy.
The ordinance would allow residences, or parts of residences, to be rented for fewer than 30 consecutive days only if they are in commercial and mixed-use zoning districts, or a few other classifications. Examples are Veterans Memorial Boulevard, much of Metairie Road and parts of Bucktown in Metairie, and parts of Manhattan Boulevard in Harvey and Ames Boulevard in Marrero.
But in neighborhoods of detached single-family houses - which largely define the unincorporated parts of Jefferson Parish - they would be banned. That's what homeowners seem to want, Councilwoman Jennifer Van Vrancken said.
"What they love about Jefferson Parish is they know the person across the street, down the street," she said Tuesday. "Short-term rentals would disturb that quality of life."
Short-term rentals let property owners generate extra cash. But they also can lead to complaints from neighborhoods about noise, traffic and garbage, as well as "suspicious people."
"We can see potential headaches for [single-family] communities," said Oscar Pipkins, president of the West Jefferson Civic Coalition. "You never know who's coming in and out of your neighborhood."
"We consider Airbnb to be businesses that absolutely do not belong on residentially zoned property," said Bob Evans, president of the East Jefferson Civic League and a former Parish Council chairman.
The Parish Council ordered a Planning Department study of short-term rentals in 2016, after Jefferson Parish lost a court case over one in Metairie. Inspectors had cited the property owner for a zoning violation, but a judge ruled that the existing law was too vague.
The result of the study is a proposal that says "short-term rental is not compatible with the primarily residents character of many of the parish's neighborhoods."
Among other things, the ordinance would:
· Require property owners to obtain a license from the Department of Inspection and Code Enforcement. The license would cost $750 - 15 times the fee for hotels and motels.
· Subject short-term rentals to inspections by the Sheriff's Office and the Department of Property Maintenance, Zoning and Quality of Life
· Levy sales tax on rentals
· Allow current short-term rentals in prohibited areas to continue operating for 12 months
· Give current short-term rentals in permitted areas six months to comply with the new law.