AirBnB opponents in Cedar City miss the mark

By Jesse Harris

There’s no politics like local politics. After an incident in which a tour bus was parked overnight in a residential neighborhood for a swim team renting a house on AirBnB, the residents of the area started a push to try and ban all nightly rentals in R1 zones. The planning commission rejected the proposal 5-1 last week, but the city council chose to hear more from both sides of the issue at last night’s council meeting. Opponents, however, failed to make a particularly cogent case for a full ban.

The complaints center around concerns about noise, parking, property values, and crime, yet there’s no evidence that nightly rentals cause these more than any other renters. Similarly, an outright ban doesn’t seem to address any of these issues at all. It’s also a bit telling that instead of going to talk to neighbors, the opponents want the city to step in for them. At the same time, it’s using an approach that doesn’t directly address the issues at hand but rather assumes that banning nightly rentals in their area will solve all of these issues.

This begs the question as to if anything needs to be done at all. If there was a noise issue, were the occupants approached? If that failed, did the noise ordinance allow for action by local law enforcement? Is there an existing ordinance about parking large commercial vehicles in residential areas? If not, wouldn’t that solve a parking issue? Is there any evidence that a well-maintained short-term rental has an effect on property values or crime compared to long-term rentals, an allowable use? These are all important questions that were not brought up in last night’s meeting.

Look, I get it. I wouldn’t be happy about a bus being parked on the street in my neighborhood either since it blocks the road. And I wouldn’t be happy if a house full of teenagers was getting too rowdy late into the night. But I’m enough of an adult to, you know, actually go talk to people about the problem before trying to wield city power to get what I want. And I can recognize how to solve the actual core problem rather than trying to blanket ban something else in the hopes that it takes care of it.

Thankfully, I think the city council and mayor recognize the proper approach to resolve the few rare issues that come with short-term rentals. I hope the people who are all riled up will go along with it rather than agitating for a sledgehammer approach when a scalpel will do.

You can watch the city council meeting in question below.


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