Eastover Court airbnb

Eastover Court in Crescent Hill is one Louisville street where short-term rentals have fueled divisions among neighbors. October 2018

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Homes and apartments that are rented fulltime on sites like Airbnb would have to be 600 feet apart in residential areas under the latest version of proposed changes to Louisville Metro’s short-term rental regulations.

Amid mounting complaints about noise and neighborhood disruption, elected officials have been grappling for months with ways to limit the concentration of homes that are continuously for rent for as little as one night on Airbnb, VRBO and other platforms.

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The 600-foot rule is meant to prevent neighborhood blocks from becoming commercialized with de-facto hotels, while still allowing Airbnb homes that are not the primary residence of the person listing them for rent, said Metro Council member Brandon Coan, who introduced the change this week.

“I thought that banning them outright goes a step too far. On the other hand, permitting them everywhere, I think that that’s wrong,” said Coan, whose Highlands district includes one of the heaviest concentrations of Airbnb-rented homes.

The new rule would only apply to newly permitted homes, so the hundreds of short-rental permits Metro has already granted would be grandfathered. And the limitation would apply only to residentially zoned areas.

The 600-foot-rule is a part of a set of short-term rental changes that will be debated by the council’s zoning committee next week and could come to a full council vote as soon as April 25.

Coan said no changes will take effect in time for the May 4 Kentucky Debry weekend, which is the busiest time of the year for short-term rentals in Louisville.

Other proposed changes include:

-          Giving the city’s planning director authority to revoke a short-term rental registration or permit after two “substantiated” civil or criminal complaints and/or violations of the short-term rental rules within a year

-          Requiring hosts to include the Louisville Metro registration number within the advertisement of a short-term rental on a platform like Airbnb, and allowing the planning director to request that the platform remove ads for unregistered units

-          Increasing the registration fee from a one-time $25 to an annual $100

-          Having the planning director request that platforms like Airbnb provide monthly reports on the number of rental properties and nights rented in Louisville Metro, and authorizing the director to subpoena the information from the platforms

Coan called the proposed ordinance “a good, compromise piece of legislation that takes into account all the different, divergent views that we have on how to regulate this issue.”

Metro Council member Bill Hollander, whose Crescent Hill-Clifton district is also popular for short-term rentals, has called for a prohibition on the rental of homes that are not the host’s primary residence.

Hollander said he “can support” the 600-foot rule proposed by Coan.

“This compromise at least limits the numbers and prevents whole residential blocks from becoming little hotels,” Hollander said.

Coan noted that the proposal would allow the Board of Zoning Adjustment, a group appointed by the mayor, to allow exceptions to the 600-foot rule on a case-by-case basis.

“This is intended to be a firm guideline, but that doesn’t mean it’s totally inflexible,” he said.

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Reach reporter Chris Otts at 502-585-0822, cotts@wdrb.com, on Twitter or on Facebook. Copyright 2019 WDRB News. All rights reserved.

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Chris Otts reports for WDRB.com about business and economic topics, higher education and local / state government. He joined WDRB News in 2013 after seven years with The Courier-Journal. Got a tip? Chris is at 502-585-0822 and cotts@wdrb.com.