A densely detailed ordinance designed to regulate short-term rentals such as Airbnb and HomeAway will drop in the Kansas City Council’s lap next month.
The Kansas City Plan Commission on Tuesday approved much of a city staff proposal following three hours of public testimony and discussion.
The ordinance next goes to the City Council’s Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee after several changes were made to the plan.
A key change will allow short-term rentals in parts of the city where the original plan prohibited them. Another change would redefine the number of guests a short-term host could have per bedroom. Another would allow a homeowner to have short-term rental contracts with two different parties at the same time.
Public testimony this week repeated much of what was given in June, when a decision on the proposed ordinance was continued to allow the commissioners to learn more about the short-term rental industry and the nuances of the city’s first proposed regulation on the business.
Since then, the city planning department held a work session with the commissioners and a public open house to get more reaction. The department also adapted some parts of its initially proposed regulation to reflect public feedback.
The proposal put before the commission was a 30-page document that dug into the minutiae of short-term rentals, basically dividing the permitting and rules into rental units that are owner-occupied and non-owner occupied, those in single-family houses and those in multi-family apartment buildings or condominiums.
Details cover the length of rental contracts, number of short-term rentals allowed in particular locations, zoning specifications and fees.
The commission, a group of eight citizen appointees, admitted there was a steep learning curve to understand the short-term rental industry that has forged ahead in Kansas City without specific city regulation.
Matt Rice, who leased eight apartment units in the newly renovated East 9 at Pickwick Plaza and is renting them out through the Airbnb platform, was happy that the commission didn’t limit the number of units he could list in the downtown property.
Brandon Ryan, who lists bedrooms in a house he owns in south Kansas City, was happy that the commission recommended permission for such use in a residential neighborhood like his.
Steve Mitchell, a Kansas City resident who drafted an alternate ordinance to the city staff’s proposal, was happy that many of his suggestions — which were supported by a group of Airbnb hosts — were approved by the commission.
Several neighborhood representatives remained unhappy with their limited ability to control the number of short-term rental units in their neighborhoods. Members of the hotel and motel industry also raised objections to parts of the ordinance that would make short-term rentals more competitive or free of regulations and taxes that the industry pays.
Diane Binckley, the city staff member who has led the ordinance planning, said the city is working to obtain necessary legislation from the Missouri state legislature that would allow tax collection through short-term rental platforms. Such an agreement was reached last year, for example, between the state of Kansas and Airbnb.
Binckley said it will take until after Labor Day to integrate some of the commissioners’ requests into the ordinance that goes to the elected officials.
Airbnb spokesman Benjamin Breit said the plan commission’s work was “an important step towards home sharing regulations that are fair and simple to follow.”
Breit said the company supported the city's work “to update Missouri law to allow Airbnb to collect and remit taxes on behalf of our hosts.”