Planning Commission recommends approval of city’s first short-term rentals where owner lives off-site
photo by: Mike Yoder
Permits for the city’s first short-term rentals where the property owner lives elsewhere received their first approvals at City Hall on Wednesday.
At its regular meeting, the Lawrence-Douglas County Metropolitan Planning Commission voted to recommend for approval the first nonowner-occupied short-term rentals under the city’s newly created licensing program. Commissioners considered four permit requests and recommended that all four be approved.
In September, the Lawrence City Commission voted to begin regulating Airbnb properties and other short-term rentals, including a process that would require a review from the Planning Commission and the City Commission before a property owner who resides elsewhere could operate such a business.
Planning and Development Services Director Scott McCullough said the permit requests have been pretty straightforward thus far.
“I think they are going through as expected,” McCullough said. “There hasn’t been anything out of the ordinary presented yet.”
Of the four requests considered Wednesday, two were for accessory dwelling units, or smaller living spaces that are on the same property as a single-family home. The other two requests were for a duplex and a series of apartments.
Some neighbors near the short-term rentals voiced concern that the rentals might negatively affect the neighborhood. Planning Commissioner David Carttar said the permit and licensing process gives structure to the rentals, making them conform to the same rules as long-term rentals.
“If this were a long-term rental property, there is absolutely no guarantee that it would be in better shape or that the neighbors would be better behaved than in a short-term rental situation,” Carttar said.
McCullough said that including the four permits reviewed on Wednesday, there are 13 permits for nonowner-occupied short-term rentals being processed thus far. He said the other nine permit applications will be considered by the Planning Commission over the next few months. The Planning Commission’s recommendations will be sent to the City Commission, which will make the ultimate decision about the permit.
For property owners who live at the short-term rental, the short-term rental use is a right but requires a license. Licenses for both owner-occupied and nonowner-occupied short-term rentals require yearly inspections, proof of taxes paid and adherence to the city’s parking and occupancy rules. McCullough said that so far, there have been 88 licenses issued for owner-occupied short-term rentals.
Where are the properties?
The four nonowner-occupied short-term rental permits that the Planning Commission recommended for approval are as follows:
508 Florida St.: A two-bedroom duplex in a multidwelling residential zoning district. Carrie Jackson submitted the request on behalf of Jose Velasco, property owner of record.
815 Alabama St.: A two-bedroom accessory dwelling unit in a single-dwelling residential zoning district. Angela Nascimento submitted the request on behalf of William Price, property owner of record.
888 New Hampshire St.: Three apartments, units 208, 209 and 216, containing a total of four rooms in an apartment building at 888 New Hampshire St., located in the downtown commercial zoning district. First Management Inc. submitted the request on behalf of 100 E. 9th LLC, property owner of record.
921 Holiday Drive: Accessory dwelling unit in planned unit development zoning district. Bingham Investment LLC, property owner of record, submitted the request.