Council to hold hearing tonight on short-term rentals

Graphic from Wikimedia Commons.

The County Council will hold a public hearing tonight on changes to the zoning code affecting short-term rentals under services such as Airbnb, Home Away and others.

The hearing on Zoning Text Amendment 17-03, Accessory Residential Uses–Short-term Rentals, will be at 7:30 p.m. in the Seventh Floor Council Hearing Room of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville.

According to the council’s staff report, ZTA 17-03 would permit short-term rentals under these conditions:

  • Allowed only on sites without either a farm tenant dwelling or an accessory apartment
  • Allowed only if the site is the primary resident of the applicant
  • Maximum rentals in a calendar year of 90 days, counting only when the applicant is absent
  • The total number of adult overnight guests is limited to six
  • The total number of adult overnight guests per bedroom is limited to two
  • Unless the online listing indicates that vehicle parking is prohibited, one off-street parking space must be provided for each rental contract.

At the same time, the council will hold a hearing on Bill 2-16, Transient-Housing—Licensing and Registration that would update provisions for hotels and address transient housing and licensing for bed and breakfast establishments.

The bill, which was introduced on February 2, 2016 by lead sponsor Council Vice President Hans Riemer (D-At Large) and cosponsor Councilmember Craig Rice (D-District 2), anticipates but does not require the approval of ZTA 17-03, according to a press release. Both items incorporate recommendations from the Planning Board that followed earlier public hearings.

“Thousands of Montgomery County residents are already using home-sharing services like Airbnb,” Riemer said in introducing the bill. “We should recognize this change in lifestyle and act to both legalize and regulate short-term rentals.

“The proposed approach is designed to allow part-time home-sharing, while banning what would be essentially commercial hotels in residential areas,” he continued. “The underpinning of the approach is that every home used for home sharing should have a homeowner who lives there.”

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