Thursday evening, the City of Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission met to discuss a topic that’s been on the table for four years now: Short-term rental regulations.
City leaders began discussing the issue in 2018. A revised version of those regulations has been in the works since a proposition was shot down in 2020. The current draft started its edits in September as the commission prepares a final draft of the proposed regulations.
The Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau said there are about 370 active short-term rentals in the city. The proposed changes would require extra licensing and would restrict those short-term rentals could be located.
Vanessa Bowman and Jim Yankee have rented out Airbnb locations for about a year. The pair hosts three different places around Columbia.
“I don't know, I just love it,” Bowman said. “There's a lot of moms that come into town just to visit their kids in college to make them their favorite meals and stuff like that.”
But the Planning and Zoning Commission struck some rules that allowed Yankee to put some units in mixed-use buildings up for rental.
“I think we have a lot to offer. We want people to come and visit and join,” Yankee said. “And hotels aren't affordable for everybody or just not as much fun as Airbnbs. There's a lot of great historic homes that now people can access and can stay in that wouldn't otherwise be available to the public.”
The draft will go through public comment before the council considers it in one of its upcoming sessions. Patrick Zenner -- development services manager with Columbia -- added changes that can still be made to the policy.
If it does pass, Yankee said he’d consider taking legal action on behalf of their rentals.
“I mean, you're just telling people that they can't earn income off of their property,” he added. “And I just think on many levels it's not fair. It's not right. It's not fair to small businesses. It's not good for our community.”