New short-term rental rules in St. Francisville: ‘People want to know who their neighbors are’

New short-term rental rules in St. Francisville: 'People want to know who their neighbors are'

The St. Francisville Board of Aldermen adopted strict regulations Tuesday on the location and operation of short-term rental residences, such as those marketed through the Airbnb internet site.

Mayor Robert Leake said the purpose of the new ordinance, which the board adopted unanimously, is to prevent an individual or company from buying up a swath of residential properties and advertising them for weekend or other short-term rentals.

Leake said short-term rentals have become a major problem for communities across the country.

Town officials and residents have discussed such an ordinance since last August, but the aldermen only recently agreed on the wording of the new law.

The new rules will put some existing sites out of business, but Leake and town planning official Laurie Walsh said they are not sure of the exact number.

“Five or six,” Leake said after the meeting.

The owners of the affected properties began operating them as short-term rentals when the town had no regulations, and some are in residential areas. The mayor said they compete with existing bed-and-breakfast operations and motels, but do not collect hotel-motel taxes like their competitors.

The ordinance limits the location of short-term rentals to two areas of town: the preexisting Commercial Town Center zone in part of the Historic District and a new area of zoning called the Commerce Street Overlay District.

The board created the Commerce Street zone in a separate ordinance also adopted in the Tuesday meeting. Its lies along Commerce Street from its intersection with Wilcox Street and south to U.S. 61.

The mayor said he did not know how many short-term rental properties the designated areas could accommodate.

The board discussed how to notify the existing but nonconforming operators that they must cease renting their homes to short-term visitors.

Aldermen Al Lemoine suggested setting July 1 as a cutoff date to give the owners time to close down and honor existing reservations. Leake said he and the town attorney would consider that deadline in drawing up notices to the affected owners.

The regulations require short-term rental owners to obtain permits from the town, but no one may hold more than one permit, which are nontransferable.

Owners must pay all sales and occupancy taxes, and the ordinance prohibits using short-term rental units for commercial or social events.

Leake said the property owners now operating short-term rentals in residential area are free to convert the homes to traditional rental units.

The ordinance also sets limits on the number of bedrooms that may be rented — four — and the number of guests, 12.

The ordinance is tougher than the rules the city of Baton Rouge adopted in November, as St. Francisville will not allow them in areas zoned for residential use. Baton Rouge will allow them in residential areas without the owners obtaining “conditional use” permits.

“People want to know who their neighbors are,” Leake said of residential property owners.

In other action, engineer Bianca Hillhouse said bids for construction of a new sewage treatment plant will be opened March 30. Several contractors expressed interest in the project during a Monday pre-bid conference, she said.


About Mary Weyand 20629 Articles
Mary founded Scoop Tour with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research. With ample knowledge about the Automobile industry, she also contributes her knowledge for the Automobile section of the website.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.