ST. CHARLES, Mo. (KMOV) – The town of St. Charles has more than 60 short-term rentals dotted within its boundaries. Only 40 are found in and around the city’s historic main street.
The problem is that over 100 short term rentals are operating illegally at the moment.
Community Development Director Zach Tusinger said the city is unable to prosecute individual offenders. The strategy then consists in establishing clear regulations to be followed by the operators.
“The bill before us doesn’t talk about banning AirBnBs, but it doesn’t open the floodgates either,” Tusinger told News 4 just outside the city chambers on Tuesday.
A new proposal, discussed at a special meeting ahead of Tuesday night’s city council meeting, calls for regaining control and includes conditional use permit requirements in residential areas.
Additionally, a 500 foot buffer zone preventing a situation where seven or eight short term rentals on a single block
Finally, it would place a 1% cap on housing in Saint-Charles.
“That means there are 30,000 units in the entire city, so no more than 1% can be short-term rentals,” Tusinger explained. “So that roughly translates to 300 short-term rentals.”
Ward 3 council member Vince Ratchford has led an effort to better regulate these businesses since last December. Although he couldn’t speak to News 4, he wanted the city to limit short-term rentals to 0.5% of city housing.
Ward 2 council member Tom Besselman agreed.
“We can get together as a group to reduce 1% to a different number for a while until we see how it goes,” Besselman said.
The growth of Lindenwood University is an important factor. The university just upgraded to Division 1 earlier this year.
Ward 6 council member Justin Foust wants the city to be able to handle an influx of guests. He said the city would gain about $500,000 in tax revenue if it provided 300 short-term rentals in residential areas and another 100 in a commercial area.
“We’re always trying to create tourist attractions, Main Street goes crazy if it doesn’t go its way,” Foust explained. “We bring all this stuff here, but I guess you just want them to stay in hotels, I guess.”
At this time, approval of applications for these short-term rentals has been suspended at City Hall. The goal is to allow these requests to be processed by the end of August and then begin the new billing cycle of the $100 annual fee in January 2023.
Ratchford’s amendment has been approved by the city council. It limits the total number of short-term rentals to 0.5% of housing in the city.
This means that the current maximum for rentals like AirBnB and Vrbo is 150 inside the city limits.
As Besselman suggested, other council members can agree to pick up that conversation if and when the city is close to reaching that maximum number of short-term properties.
A second reading is required for this amendment which will take place at the municipal council in two weeks, on August 2.
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