22 Replies Latest reply: Sep 10, 2019 7:57 AM by georgygirl1955 RSS

    Short Term Rental Caps

    kiawahbill Contributor

      The Town Council in our location, Kiawah Island, has recently proposed an ordinance that will put a strict 20% cap on short term rentals (STR). 

      We obviously oppose this.  Has anyone in the community fought against this sort of thing?  I would appreciate guidance/direction.


      Here is the link to the proposed ordinance:  https://www.kiawahisland.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Revised-Proposed-Short-Term-Rental-Ordinance-082319.pdf


      VRBO is getting seriously trashed by the local folks who support the cap.  Interesting move for an Oceanfront Resort community.

        • Re: Short Term Rental Caps
          droptop Contributor

          We've been fighting and beating down first property managers, and now hoteliers in Hawaii in a concerted way since 2012. 


          Of our core group, about a third are Canadian.  We testified at the state legislature, wrote op-eds for papers -- you know, kind of high-profile public stuff -- and neither Vrbo or owners of TVRs asked us for citizenship when they wanted their properties saved from those who wanted to take over management.  That citizenship exclusion only happened when Vrbo moved to its own payment system and discriminated against us because we are Canadians with properties in the US.  No good deed . . .


          Airbnb will be a huge help to you. As was the case in Hawaii, VRBO will assist by delivering marketing letters to government officials and prosecutors right when a big vote is happening, urging them to list their zoning-non-compliant properties on VRBO right away to make extra money.  I kid ye not; they actually did this.  See postings on this Forum about when they did this earlier this year, and above in today's discussion topics on results the marketing effort helped produce, i.e., new County limits on TVRs on Hawaii and Oahu. Then, they'll be slow to apologize, helping to mobilize locals against you.


          • Re: Short Term Rental Caps
            db.meyer Senior Contributor

            It is not unusual for locations with a large number of vacation rentals to impose % caps on the number of "permitted" STRs. I see that your proposal is for 20% in R1, 40% in R2, etc.  One problem I see in your Town's proposal is that upon the sale of a licensed VR, that that license/permit transfers to the buyer (new owner) who then has 30 days to apply for a license.  This will make it extremely difficult for anyone on the "Waiting List" to ever get a permit and in my opinion is not a "Fair" system.


            This is the language I'm referring to:


            d)  If the dwelling unit is located in residential zoning districts R-1 or R-2, which are subject to STR caps (refer to Section 15-805, Rental Property Zoning Caps), the license runs with the property as long as the new owner or authorized agent applies for a license on that property within 30 days after closing.


            I'll tag georgygirl1955 RE: Charleston input

            • Re: Short Term Rental Caps
              db.meyer Senior Contributor

              Some suggested language:


              Any change of ownership, in whatever form, shall be reported to the City within thirty (30) days. A person shall not hold more than one short term rental license at a time. The short term rental license is issued to the owner and does not transfer with the sale or conveyance of the property.

              Waiting list in certain areas.  If the dwelling unit is located within the area subject to the cap placed on the number of short term rentals and no licenses are available, the owner who is otherwise eligible to receive a license will be placed on a waiting list. As a license within the capped area becomes available, it will be issued to the owner whose application has been on the list for the longest time.

              Hardship license.The City Council at its discretion may approve a special hardship license where it is determined that a medical condition, death of a spouse or other extraordinary financial burden is likely to jeopardize the owner’s ability to maintain ownership of the designated property. The Council may attach a time limit with a hardship license, and this license shall be revoked upon the sale or conveyance of the property.

              • Re: Short Term Rental Caps
                georgygirl1955 Senior Contributor

                kiawahbill     Very interesting move for

                Kiawah....hmmmm....actually kinda shocking.  They are making a strong statement.

                Mount Pleasant enacted a cap limit.

                My homes will be grandfathered in; the cap wont affect me.

                I had been in communication with our Town Council , important citizens, and various mayors for 9 years now.

                I think it is very important to be involved in local politics,  and be friendly with the movers and shakers of the town.

                Your best current move might be to lobby for existing properties to be grandfathered in and not subjected to the cap if they can demonstate they have been paying all proper Sales and Accommodation taxes prior to any new ordinance.

                Since Verbo just took over our taxes, most everyone currently existing will be able to avoid an imposed cap if you take that tactic.

                Go onto youtube and watch the last few council meeting discussions on STR on The Mount Pleasant Channel.

                Also go onto Town of Mount Pleasant website and read the past Planning Committee minutes over the prior year for insight.

                We have a new election coming up and our council can shift and local politics and ordinances are always subject to change on a council's whim. We are now organzing a formal group ( vs our multi year informal group ) to keep thumbs on everything.

                The goal is to always keep 5 council people in support of us. ( majority )

                I had email blasts going out to owners for years. I set up a fb page to find them and paid out of pocket for the ads.

                Find your Kiawah owners and PM's.

                Also work to keep the media away. They are not friendly and will twist all info.

                And the sites will send heads up to owners and PM about meetings sometimes too. I never posted updates or meetings publicly because I didnt want to provide notice to our objectors. We kept everything very quiet and that proved to be the best tactic in the long run.

                Our ex-governor / congressman also came to our meetings and spoke in support. You will also find his very smart comments and input in the minutes. I think this was crucial and really impacted the council.  If he doesnt run for president and has free time , maybe you can get his assistance too as he was also Congressman for Kiawah and still has political influence.

                I will be watching. Charleston set a difficult precedent.

                One more thing = I dont see a hardship on the license transfer. I think that is only fair to those who have current STR's and so I disagree with db.meyer on those comments.

                Now I gotta go and watch my weather channel. Calm before the storm.

                • Re: Short Term Rental Caps
                  scottr Active Contributor

                  Caps are preferred over bans.  If you're fighting a cap now, you will likely be fighting a ban in the future.  Take the cap, with a grandfather clause, and be thankful you can still operate your VHR. Owners don't set the rules,  residents do.

                  • Re: Short Term Rental Caps
                    timthek Active Contributor

                    The problem STR owners face is that the vast majority of them aren't residents. That means NO VOTE. Only the local residents, who typically hate rentals and are too shortsighted to see that their town would collapse without the rentals....get to vote and run for council and mayor. They love all the wonderful shops and restaurants and how nice the roads and municipal services are... Yet they are blind as to what pays for all of it.

                    It is an incredibly difficult challenge to overcome.

                    • Re: Short Term Rental Caps
                      hmmmm Senior Contributor

                      We have in San Diego been fighting for years, for STVRs.  We have fought every attempt to limit or ban them.
                      Its been a very contentious experience.

                      What I now, have realized:

                      Had there been a limit imposed at some point we may have all been better off.

                      We are all so saturated with them, that we are no where near the business $$$ we were.

                      Its like having 1500 Starbucks  in a mile area, no one starbucks makes money.


                      I have been in the business with ours for 30 years and my family had been doing some since the 1950s.

                      What was a very pleasant experience for many years, has changed to a battle with an overly saturated market.

                      What it has also done is spread so far inland that it has caused residents to take up arms and protest.

                      I do believe that we are in for a change, due to the fact that it is a good thing gone bad with lots of fly by night bad actor/operators who

                      care less about their guests or their community.


                      So, work with your local government and perhaps take a look a the larger picture.


                      Good luck to you, its a draining battle

                      • Re: Short Term Rental Caps
                        georgygirl1955 Senior Contributor

                        Post and Courier today :


                        A Charleston-area community known for oceanfront golf and luxury vacation accommodations is writing new rules for rental properties listed on sites like Airbnb and VRBO.

                        The Town of Kiawah Island is now among the region’s communities trying to regulate short-term rentals. The island’s new rules came from a special town council committee and were scheduled to be up for first reading.


                        Known worldwide as an upscale golf, tennis and beach getaway, Kiawah is about a 40-minute drive southwest of Charleston. It has fewer than 2,000 full-time residents. But tourists and part-time residents well outnumber year-round locals, bringing the population to as many as 10,000 vacationers during peak months.

                        The proposed short-term rental rules specify requirements related to parking, safety features and local property managers. It also designates a staggered cap on how many units can be located in different sections of the island.

                        The limits were assigned with the intention of “protecting residential character” in the town, said Stephanie Braswell, a spokeswoman for the town of Kiawah.

                        The town is broken into three residential zones. In the first, rental units would be capped at 20 percent of the dwellings and, in the second, 40 percent.

                        The third zone, which includes areas around Kiawah Island Golf Resort and its Sanctuary Hotel, would have no limit.

                        In the “Residential 1” zone, about 285 homes, or 16 percent of the dwellings, already have a license to operate as a short-term rental, according to the town. In the sector classified as “Residential 2,” about a third of the 764 dwellings are licensed. To boot, those two areas have nearly another 800 home sites that have not been developed.

                        Two other coastal cities have both included caps in their short-term rental rules. In Mount Pleasant, rentals are being limited to 1 percent of the town’s total housing stock, or around 400 units. In Beaufort, rentals where the owner doesn’t live on-site are limited to 6 percent of the dwellings within a given neighborhood.

                        The city of Charleston didn’t include a cap in its short-term rental rules, but it did put limitations on what properties could qualify, based on location. For example, homes in the Historic District have to be on the National Register of Historic Places to be eligible for legal short-term status.

                        • Re: Short Term Rental Caps
                          georgygirl1955 Senior Contributor

                          This article was in Charleston Paper today.

                          I think it is a good read and relevant to everyone who will face STR regulations someday,

                          and that means nearly ever STR owner in every unregulated town anywhere -


                          Here is the local advice = ( I cant edit out the grey so please read around it )

                          It can be a daunting prospect, especially for those new to the area.

                          You get wind of a proposed rezoning, road project or development plan that has you scratching your head — or worse. How best to engage?

                          The old adage “You can’t fight City Hall” seems to offer little comfort, but take heart: The reality of interacting with local government, City Hall, Town Hall or County Council, has always been more nuanced than that, especially for those willing to invest a little time and thought.

                          So what follows here is a sort of primer for those folks, a way to engage City Hall and win, inspired partly by Chinese general Sun Tzu who wrote the “Art of War,” a somewhat mystical yet still widely read book of military advice.

                          Choose your battles (wisely)

                          Tzu wrote that it’s important to know when to fight and when not to fight.

                          When thinking about this decision, think deeply about geography and others who may have something at stake. How close are you to the parcel being rezoned? To the intersection being reconfigured? The closer you are, the more the immediate impact, the more your voice will tend to be heard, the more it may pay to speak up.

                          Also, is this what you really care most about? What you think will make the biggest difference in your quality of life? Engaging can take time: Controversial issues are seldom settled at a single meeting, and it makes sense to think about how best to use your limited time.

                          There are people who stand up at public meetings and regularly share whatever’s on their mind, as most elected officials probably begin to wonder how much later they will arrive home for dinner as a result of all this sharing.

                          That said, Mount Pleasant Town Administrator Eric DeMoura holds regular coffee hours to talk with town residents concerned about something. “Always pick up the phone,” he advised. “Too often, what we see nowadays is here comes an email that’s accusatory, to say it nicely. Call, talk to us, come meet us. We want good government as much as they do.”

                          For instance, one woman from the Old Village recently spoke to DeMoura over coffee and noted a section of Toomer Street had risen so high — as asphalt was piled up over an old oak’s tree roots — that cars were scraping their bottom.

                          DeMoura asked town staff to take a look. They did and shaved off excess asphalt to flatten out the street. “I got a nice thank you note from her,” he said.

                          Timing is critical

                          The earlier you engage, the better, partly because it’s easier all around to make changes and adaptations before much time and money is spent. It’s a prime reason many developers meet with neighborhood residents and environmental or preservation groups to present their plans and hear any feedback before things progress to a public meeting.

                          If a rezoning or another change already has been approved on first and second reading, it can be challenging to get it shelved after that. The question naturally will arise, Where were you before now?

                          Of course, keeping track of all this can take more time than the average person has. That’s a big reason why several local cities have encouraged neighborhood associations to form, so someone there can keep track of agendas and be a neighborhood conduit with local government for proposed changes in the works.

                          If your neighborhood doesn’t have one, consider forming one. It’s easier to influence something in the early stages, but someone needs to track what’s going on.

                          Change presents opportunity

                          You might not be able to stop a development but might be able to alter aspects of it (lighting, landscaping), maybe even get something that your neighborhood has wanted.

                          When the State Ports Authority announced plans to put a massive container terminal on the southern end of Daniel Island, residents were quick to harness that plan to speed up work on a second interchange for the island along Interstate 526.

                          Public opposition eventually scuttled the container terminal plan, but by then, the interchange already was built.

                          On a far-smaller scale, the developer redoing the former Jabers grocery store at Rutledge Avenue and Huger Street sought a special parking variance for the project. Hampton Park Terrace neighborhood leader Kevin Eberle of the neighborhood association recalls he wasn’t particularly concerned about that variance but wanted to see a more attractive parking lot.To win the neighborhood’s support, the developer agreed to plant new trees deeper into the lot, where they wouldn’t need as much pruning because of overhead power lines. “There is some room for compromise usually,” Eberle says.

                          Know Yourself, Know the Enemy

                          Ryan Johnson of North Charleston often speaks to local business leaders to give them tips on interacting successfully with that city’s government.“The No. 1 thing I ask them is how many of them know their city council member,” he says. “Nobody raises their hand, hardly.”So a phone call or email to your council member is a great place to start. Better yet, get to know them well enough to vote in local elections. If you show up at a meeting on occasion, you’ll probably get noticed. Attendance is usually low, Johnson said. And don’t mistake social media for being social. “Facebook is not a government forum,” Johnson said. “Attend public meetings, call and talk to a human within your local government. Many times, staff can help with your issue immediately, you don’t always have to contact an elected official.” As far as knowing yourself, just keep in mind that your voice is not necessarily more important than your neighbor’s one street or one neighborhood away. You cast one vote. Most elected officials worth their salt will want that vote and try to get it.But it’s important to recognize your limits and build allies, including neighbors, friends and other voters who see things your way. It’s easier than ever with social media.It’s also important to know that a city or county council works differently than a board of zoning appeals. City and county council members are elected and (most usually) base their decision on what they see as the greatest public good, at least as far as what might cause them to lose the fewest votes.But those who serve on boards of zoning appeals are more independent. They are appointed to act as judges, specifically judges of whether a request fits in with the city’s or county’s existing zoning law. It’s a pretty thankless task.And it’s important to think about who you see as “the enemy.” Is it a developer trying to earn a living? An elected official? Understanding a little bit more about them (and empathizing with their perspective) might help you find a mutually agreeable way forward — and minimize any conflict.

                          No one wins in conflict

                          It goes without saying that if you’re resorting to calling elected officials names, things are not going well for you. Tzu notes the best way to win is not to fight at all, and only the most ornery and pugnacious among us wouldn’t agree with that.Those who feel upset about receiving a parking ticket or a traffic citation may take their case to an administrative judge, municipal judge or magistrate. But those who bother to appeal need to keep their temper in check: Being respectful and sticking with the facts will work a lot better.Eberle says most people don’t want to “fight City Hall” but instead want to woo City Hall to their way of thinking on a particular development. Some of the most epic battles in City Hall are over big projects, such as Charleston Place in the 1980s or the Sergeant Jasper replacement during this past decade.The savvy developer will try to avoid conflict by meeting with neighbors and other interest groups ahead of time. Sometimes, that works great, such as Lowe Enterprises’ effort to build a new hotel at 176 Concord St. during a time when many residents and preservationists are increasingly wary of hotels. It met with many groups ahead of time, heard them out and responded in a way that kept controversy to a minimum.

                          Success breeds success

                          If you interact with local elected officials and staff successfully, you’ll get to know them in a way that will come in handy the next time you see that colorful “Public Hearing” sign pop up in a neighbor’s yard.

                          So the best way to fight City Hall is to build relationships where you can and work toward what you want long before anyone thinks about using the word, “fight.”

                          I will also add the adage:  Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”