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The Chamber, CHALT, Local Hoteliers, and Former Chapel Hill Mayor Support the Short-Term Rental (STR) Ordinance with 2 Points for Reconsideration

The Chamber, CHALT, Local Hoteliers, and Former Chapel Hill Mayor Support the Short-Term Rental (STR) Ordinance with 2 Points for Reconsideration

*The following is a joint email from The Chamber, CHALT, local hoteliers, and a former Mayor of Chapel Hill to the Chapel Hill Town Council on 06/16/2021 expressing support for the short-term rental (STR) ordinance with two recommended changes. 

Dear Mayor and Council,

Thank you for your continued focus and attention on developing a fair and reasonable framework for regulating short-term rentals (STRs) in the Town of Chapel Hill.

The most recent draft of the ordinance reflects much thought and compromise, and we are very supportive of this proposed regulatory framework. We do ask you to reconsider two items that have been revised from earlier versions of the proposed ordinance.

  1. Reconsider the 18-month “sunset” period. The current draft ordinance allows existing, illegally-operating STRs that will be unable to obtain a zoning compliance permit to continue operating for 18 months after the effective date of the ordinance. While some “sunset” period may be practical, we recommend returning to the six-month period specified in earlier versions of the draft ordinance. Remember that most existing STRs already are operating illegally, and allowing impermissible activity to continue for another 1.5 years seemingly rewards people for prior bad behavior. This overly generous sunset window also is inconsistent with any and all town policies and practices. Keep in mind, this is not a hardship for the STR operator. In a mere moment and without any fees, STR operators can easily and immediately shift their short-term commercial market operation for transients to a long-term residential rental use, thereby helping to meet our community’s strong demand for affordable rental housing.
  1. Reconsider the 50% minimum occupancy requirement for primary residence STRs. Throughout this process, our working group has focused primarily on dedicated STRs, not primary residence ones. However, the current draft ordinance requires operators of primary residence to be present for just 50 percent of the calendar year. In our view, a unit that could be rented out for as many as six months a year without a primary resident present really has, for all intents and purposes, crossed the line into a Dedicated STR. We recommend raising this minimum primary occupancy threshold to at least 60%, with a preference for a 75% standard. This will ensure that primary residence STRs are operated by members of the community and not become a “back door” to the kinds of activity the council is seeking to limit.

Again, thank you for your leadership and hard work on this important and complicated emerging business phenomena. We believe the final ordinance will provide a much-needed framework to get STR operators out of the shadows, give them a clear and proper path to permit for their commercial activity, and help them operate safely in appropriate, allowable zones while also ensuring a more level playing field for the hospitality industry.

With appreciation,

Aaron Nelson and Katie Loovis, The Chamber For a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro

Julie McClintock, Linda Carol Davis, and John Quinterno, Chapel Hill Alliance for a Livable Town

Anthony Carey, Managing Director, The Siena Hotel

Manish Atma, President & CEO, Atma Hotel Group

D. R. Bryan, President, Bryan Properties, Inc, and Co-owner, Hyatt Place Chapel Hill

Rosemary Waldorf, Former Mayor of Chapel Hill

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