City leaders inching closer to restrictions on short-term rentals

Short-term rental owners, neighbors disagree on regulations
There are 4,600 active short-term rentals in St. Louis City, according to AirDNA.
Published: Sep. 26, 2023 at 10:30 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - There are 4,600 active short-term rentals in St. Louis City, according to AirDNA.

Tuesday, city leaders began inching closer to reining in those properties with new regulations.

The Board of Alderman Transportation and Commerce Committee was full of debates on how to iron out regulations and enforcement.

“There is absolutely no regulations in place. The losers here are the people of St. Louis,” said Ward 4 Alderman Bret Narayan.

Narayan introduced Board Bills 33 and 34 back in May.

“Alderman Narayan, where was the urgency for the last two and a half months,” said Ward 8 Alderwoman Cara Spencer, who is also the acting chair of the committee.

The regulations are worrying short-term rental property owners like Amanda McCracken.

“I all of a sudden get thrown into the same category as these people who are allowing these out-of-control parties,” said McCracken. “Those people should be stopped!”

First Alert Four has been investigating crimes surrounding short-term rentals in the city for years.

“Honestly, I believe crime is our problem in the city,” said McCracken. “The crime isn’t coming from short-term rentals. The crime is coming from the lack of consequence.”

McCracken hasn’t seen the new regulations proposed in the updated version of Board Bills 33 and 34 because it hasn’t been made public.

She says the current one on the table adds rules like occupancy limits. A restriction, she said, is not reasonable and will put her out of business.

“I agree you should not be cramming people into a house. But maybe look at it on a case-by-case basis,” said McCracken. “If I can only keep eight people in a house that’s designed for a larger number like 14 — comfortably, then I wouldn’t be able to keep it as a short-term rental, and that would eliminate a whole market of people who meet in STL and have families.”

However, long-time South City residents like Michelle Pona disagree.

“We are losing our neighborhoods to these transient hotels. One hundred twenty-four short-term rentals in our neighborhood alone. Homeowners need our rights protected,” said Pona.

Tuesday’s discussion in the committee ended with both board bills saying in committee so more public comment can be made since the updated bills haven’t been made public yet.

Next week, the committee plans to vote the bills out of committee, which will move the bill to the full board.

However, there’s still debate over limits on who can operate short-term rentals and where. One of the biggest concerns is enforcement.

“I agree 100%. There’s got to be some sort of limitation. In the meantime, I feel like there are some people like myself who I feel are doing the city a service,” said McCracken.

Even if the full Board of Aldermen approves the restrictions in Board Bills 33 and 34, they won’t take effect until sometime in 2024, according to aldermen.

Neighborhoods Are For Neighbors, a group against short-term rentals, sent First Alert 4 a statement about Tuesday’s committee meeting that said in part:

The committee was on the verge of approving a bill without public review or public comment. That is very alarming on many levels. The committee should be feeling long-term shame about their actions on short-term rentals.