To Lauren Packert, the charm of Charleston is mostly meant for people who live in the Holy City.But she’s torn, when it comes to whether short-term rentals websites, like Airbnb and VRBO, are good or bad.”If you’re bringing in more visitors and tourists, it might take away from the charm of Charleston.
But then again, it could bring in tourists to bring in more revenue for the city,” she said.
A task force is now studying this issue at city hall; do short-term rentals push out people who live in the Lowcountry to make room for visitors?Planning director Jacob Lindsey admits the task force’s mission is vague for a reason.”We don’t really understand the effects of short-term rentals or residential hotels on the city. So this process of studying how they work will give us better insight about effects on quality of life,” he said.
He said 18 people appointed by city council and the mayor would comprise the task force. The mayor will appoint six members while council members appoint the rest.
“The most important thing for us is the quality of life for residents who live here. So we want to make sure that our neighborhoods are protected, that city doesn’t become one giant hotel,” he said.
Right now, short-term rentals for less than a month are not allowed in most of the city, except for the Cannonborough-Elliotborough neighborhood. But the president of the S.C. Vacation Rental Managers Association hoped the task force would find a way to accommodate its members.
Charleston chapter president Denise Holtz released a statement Thursday:
Making short-term rentals a legal and effectively regulated travel option is a win-win for everyone. It addresses the concerns of the community, protects local homeowners looking to make ends meet, and it preserves a critical lodging option for travelers. Charleston short-term rental operators want to pay taxes, follow the rules, improve our neighborhoods, and continue to offer travelers the unique opportunity to stay local. We look forward to continuing our conversations with the city and working with the Task Force to craft an ordinance that protects local property rights and preserves the long-standing vacation rental industry here in Charleston.
The task force will start meeting in about a week, Lindsey said. He did not know how long the work would last.