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City task force proposal would regulate vacation rentals

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Airbnb, VRBO and other vacation rental units in Albuquerque could soon require a city permit under a newly proposed ordinance that would also establish rules about capacity limits and parties.

Legislation that City Councilor Diane Gibson will formally introduce Monday would require short-term rental operators to pay $120 per unit for an initial permit – and $90 annually each year thereafter – and sign a statement agreeing that its use will comply with all applicable city codes. They would also have to provide the name and phone number of a property representative who is available around the clock to field complaints.

The bill also sets short-term rental overnight occupancy limits at two adults per bedroom and restricts on-site gatherings to double the total overnight occupancy or 20 people, whichever is lower. All such gatherings would have to end by 10 p.m.

The legislation – which a council committee should hear next month – stems from a short-term rental task force the city established nearly two years ago. Gibson said her proposal addresses only matters on which the task force reached a consensus, but not those the task force did not resolve. For example, it does not restrict the number of short-term rentals in any one neighborhood or area.

The councilor said she thinks the work done ahead of the ordinance’s introduction makes it a strong candidate for approval.

“I think there’s sufficient interest and will in having some regulation around short-term rentals,” Gibson said.

A December 2018 analysis identified 1,225 vacation rentals in the city with gross monthly revenue of $1.66 million. Gibson said they are a “popular and desirable” option for travelers and likely enhance the local tourism industry but that there also have been multiple “incidents” at such properties. In one particularly high-profile incident earlier this year, University of New Mexico basketball player JaQuan Lyle hosted a party at an Albuquerque Airbnb he had rented. Two people were shot at the party, including a UNM softball player.

“I’m aware that it’s difficult to live around a house where it’s used maybe as a party house, for example, or where people are not cognizant of the way they’re parking … or maybe being too noisy,” said Gibson, whose bill also requires operators to post “good neighbor agreements” in their units outlining the regulations and relevant city policies.

Many cities already require permits for short-term rentals, including Santa Fe and Taos.

Jesse Herron, a local short-term rental operator who sat on the city’s task force, said the proposed permit fees and regulations seem reasonable.

“There’s nothing too crazy in there,” he said. “I think it’s all pretty consistent with what other cities are doing, so it makes sense.”

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