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Proposed short-term rental rules under review in Columbia


The City of Columbia held a formal public hearing on Thursday to discuss proposed short-term rental regulations.

The regulations would provide regulatory standards for the use of short-term rentals, such as AirBnBs or VRBOs. The Planning and Zoning Commission voted to send the regulations to the City Council with some suggested alterations.

The public hearing began at 7 p.m. in the City Council Chambers and lasted more than three hours. The majority of people in attendance were short-term rental owners who expressed frustration over the regulations. However, some in attendance voiced their support for the proposed regulations.

According to the city, the proposed regulations include a three-tiered structure with operational and rental day limitations, supplemental “use-specific standards” addressing licensure, site, operational limitations and revisions to the permitted use table. 

In Tier 1, the property can be rented for a maximum of 30 days each year. In Tier 2, the property can be rented for a maximum of 120 days; and in Tier 3, the property can be rented all year.

Sixteen provisions would apply to all short-term rentals. The provisions include:

  • requiring short-term rental property owners to have a business license and a certificate of compliance;
  • a limit of one short-term rental property per person;
  • a limit of eight occupants per rental home;
  • limiting property owners to only accept one reservation at a time; and
  • no large events such as weddings. 

Some residents felt the proposed regulations were too restrictive. The Columbia Board of Realtors drafted an alteration to the ordinance, after speaking with several short-term rental owners in Columbia.

One resident who addressed the committee said that the wording of the tier system was not clear enough.

"Most STRs are rented for the weekend so that would be from Friday, in my case noon, which is the check-in time, to Sunday at noon, which is the check-out time. Is that two days or three days?" the resident asked.

The question prompted the commission to vote to change the wording in the tier system from "days" to "nights".

According to the city's website, the Planning and Zoning Commission and city staff did “over two years of research” before drafting the proposed regulations. Development Services Manager Patrick Zenner said during the meeting that this was the longest he has ever worked on an ordinance.

The city began the process of drafting a short-term rental ordinance in 2018

The Columbia Department of Community Development has already been accepting public comments online at

The changes must be voted on by the Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council before they can go into effect. There has been no date set for either vote. 

Article Topic Follows: Columbia

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Mitchell Kaminski

Mitchell Kaminski is from Wheaton, Illinois. He earned a degree in sports communication and journalism from Bradley University. He has done radio play-by-play and co-hosts a Chicago White Sox podcast.


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