Ketchum could create special permit for short-term rentals like Airbnbs

Ketchum city council passed the first reading on Monday evening of an ordinance that would require owners to obtain a special permit to rent on sites like Airbnb and Vrbo.

Ketchum said the number of short-term rentals in the city is increasing. But instead of limiting their numbers in certain areas, like Sandpoint, he’s focusing on the health and safety of guests and neighbors.

Under the new rules, owners of short-term rental housing would be expected to publish a fire safety plan and identify a local manager who can respond to issues.

Seth Martin is the city’s deputy fire chief. Its biggest security concern is that a landlord or investor could turn an entire building into a short-term rental.

“And there are no regulations on it like there would be in a hotel,” he said.

A previous version of the ordinance would have required updates on units in older buildings for things like fire sprinklers. But after a reaction from landowners, city officials decided to essentially keep vested interests in existing rentals with potentially outdated safety features.

The Idaho Association of Realtors objected to Ketchum imposing standards on the property simply because of its use as a short-term rental.

Council member Michael David still believes the new ordinance will help the city keep short-term rentals under control, especially given the requirement to obtain a permit.

“It’s going to tell us how many of these units are out there, and it’s going to give first responders the ability to do what they need to do,” he said.

Ketchum estimates that only 65% ​​of short-term rentals in the city have a business license, which means tax revenues from local options are left on the table.

Continuing to operate an unlicensed short-term rental could now result in a fine of $ 100 for each day of violation.

The first reading of the ordinance went 3-0 at the Monday night council meeting. Council member Jim Slanetz voluntarily recused himself from the vote because he said he owned “two or three” short-term rentals.

Find journalist Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen

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