Lawrence City Commission votes to prohibit certain Airbnbs and other short-term rentals

photo by: Screenshot/

Some of the approximately 90 whole-home short-term rentals listed on the Airbnb website for the Lawrence area are pictured in this screenshot from Monday, Aug. 17, 2020.

City leaders voted Tuesday to prohibit most Airbnbs and other short-term rentals where the property owner lives elsewhere.

As part of its regular meeting, the Lawrence City Commission voted 3-1, with Mayor Jennifer Ananda absent and Vice Mayor Brad Finkeldei opposing, to prohibit non-owner-occupied short-term rentals in neighborhoods that are zoned for single-family homes, allowing them only in residential areas zoned as multi-family and in specific types of properties.

City code already allows short-term rentals where the homeowner rents out a room or section of the house, or where the owner rents out the entire house while continuing to live there most of the year. As part of its meeting Tuesday, the commission also voted to expand the definition of owner-occupied short-term rentals to include duplexes and properties that have accessory dwelling units — such as mother-in-law suites or converted carriage houses — as long as the person operating the rental lives in one of the dwellings on the site.

The commission has long debated the issue of non-owner-occupied short-term rentals, and Commissioners Stuart Boley, Lisa Larsen and Courtney Shipley have expressed concerns that allowing such rentals — which city maps show are primarily located in the city’s older, core neighborhoods — takes away from the city’s stock of affordable housing.

Finkeldei said Tuesday that he still supported a previous proposal that would have allowed non-owner-occupied short-term rentals in residential areas, but with significant limitations. That proposal would have limited how many non-owner-occupied rentals one owner could operate and the concentration of such rentals in neighborhoods. It did not have enough support to move forward when the commission considered it at a previous meeting.

Related stories

Aug. 18, 2020 — Lawrence city commissioners to continue debate about certain kinds of Airbnbs and other short-term rentals; some say they don’t belong in neighborhoods

Feb. 18, 2020 — Lawrence City Commission rejects new rules for Airbnbs and other short-term rentals, asks for more limitations

July 2, 2019 — City leaders want cap on how many whole-home Airbnbs a single owner can operate

May 14, 2019 — Lawrence City Commission interested in overhaul of permitting process for certain Airbnb rentals

In other business, the commission:

• Voted 4-0 to approve an ordinance to reduce the speed limit on residential streets from 30 mph to 25 mph. City staff recommended the change as part of a larger program that will also include increased traffic enforcement.

• Voted 4-0 to approve a special event permit for a temporary sanctioned campground for homeless people at Woody Park, 201 Maine Street. The campsite will provide access to toilets, showers and social services for about 25 people who are homeless and will be in place for approximately 180 days, between November 2020 and March 2021.

More from Tuesday’s meeting

Lawrence City Commission supports extending downtown program that allows expanded outdoor dining, sales

Though city leaders approve temporary campsite for homeless people, they stress need for long-term solutions

City Commission 10/06/20


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