Citizen’s Input Leads to Rethink of Short-Term Rental Ordinances

Watch a replay of the October 30 Planning and Zoning Commission meeting on the Excelsior Citizen YouTube Channel.

October 30, 2023 – In a surprising turn of events at the recent Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, a citizen’s concern has prompted a significant reevaluation of proposed ordinances for short-term rentals in the city. The commission, which has been exploring the regulatory framework for short-term rentals like Airbnb, was poised to move forward with a new set of rules until a citizen, Reggie St. John, voiced a critical observation.

St. John, who also serves on Excelsior Springs City Council, highlighted the need for limitations on the number of short-term rentals within neighborhoods, raising concerns about the potential impact on community character and cohesion. His remarks struck a chord with the commission, leading to a 3-2 vote in favor of postponing the decision. The commission agreed that the language of the proposed ordinances should be revised to include limitations on the number of such rentals within residential areas.

This decision reflects a shift in the commission’s approach, which until now classified short-term rentals (STRs) as rental businesses, allowing them in residential units across any zoning district with a Special Use Permit (SUP). The initial proposal did not include density or separation requirements for STRs, focusing instead on streamlining the approval process and establishing operational standards to mitigate potential impacts.

However, St. John’s input has highlighted a gap in the commission’s consideration — the cumulative effect of STRs on neighborhoods. The commission has conducted two study sessions on STRs, intending to create a more formal land use regulatory framework. The existing proposal, aimed at meeting community expectations, included definitions of STRs, permission criteria in different zones, licensing requirements, and site standards like off-street parking and occupancy limits.

The latest development indicates a growing awareness of the balance needed between promoting tourism and preserving neighborhood integrity. The commission’s willingness to revisit and refine the proposed ordinances showcases a responsive and adaptive governance approach, taking into account the voices of its citizens.

As the commission returns to the drawing board, the focus will now be on integrating limitations on the number of STRs, a move that could set a precedent for how cities manage the burgeoning short-term rental market while safeguarding the interests of local communities. This decision marks a significant moment in the city’s ongoing efforts to find a harmonious balance between economic development and residential wellbeing.

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