City council discusses sending short term rentals before planning commission

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Wilmington City planners presented new public input to City Council members this morning about future policy for short term rentals.

Short term rentals have been a hot topic for the past year. City leaders are trying to determine if short term rentals should be permitted for homeowners in city limits.

Council members brought up several concerns about how to enforce any kind of regulation and how to go about writing the policy.

“I think that neighborhoods are for neighbors,” President of Residents of Old Wilmington Phoebe Bragg said.

Phoebe Bragg has lived in historic downtown Wilmington for the last eight years.

“I bought in a residential neighborhood,” Bragg said. My neighborhood is zoned residential. You cannot run any sort of business and yet there are businesses running there.”

Bragg is talking about short term rentals. Wilmington Senior Planner Christine Hughes presented the public input from a March hearing to City Council today.

“We would like to develop some fair regulations for how to allow short term lodging in the community,” Hughes said.

Hughes said peer-to-peer business isn’t going away, but there has also been lots of push back from neighbors when it comes to things like Airbnbs.

“It seems like there is some general agreement about hosted home stays which is where you have room rentals while the occupant is still in the home,” Hughes said. “There is a little bit more disagreement on how to treat a whole house rental.”

Right now, there are no written regulations on it, so in the meantime, Bragg said she is surrounded by mini hotels.

“They are empty five days a week,” Bragg said. “They turn into party houses on the weekends.”

Bragg said it is more than just that.

“I’m worried about crime when the houses are empty and nuisance when the houses are full,” Bragg said. “These houses are not kept to the same standard as an owned or occupied house.”

While the community and city council are split on how to write the regulation, almost everyone agrees it needs to be done soon.

“Council has directed staff to go ahead and move forward with an amendment at this time,” Hughes said.

“I’m ready for a resolution and a resolution that’s enforceable,” Bragg said.

City council decided to allow the policy draft to go before the planning commission on June 7, but members want to discuss the topic again before that date. Hughes said if city council does that, it may have to go to the planning commission at a later date.


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