PORTSMOUTH — The City Council will hold a joint work session with the Planning Board Feb. 11 to address the issue of how to regulate short-term rentals in the city.
The council voted 9-0 Monday to schedule the work session meeting after Councilor Nancy Pearson recently asked City Manager John Bohenko for a report back on the issue.
“I think it would be helpful for us to know if we know how many there are and the effect they might be having on the rental market,” Pearson said, adding it would be good to get an update “now that they’re here.”
The joint work session will be held at 6:30 p.m. in Council Chambers at City Hall.
Bohenko told the council “city staff was prepared to report back to City Council regarding short-term rentals after the first of the year.”
“In addition, the Planning Board intended to discuss potential zoning amendments regarding short-term rentals in the city,” Bohenko said in a memo to the council. “The Mayor (Jack Blalock) is requesting that the City Council hold a joint work session with the Planning Board regarding this matter.”
The city’s planning staff previously spent several months working on a proposal to regulate short-term rentals in the city in 2015, but they stopped moving forward with the proposed regulations. Planning Director Juliet Walker previously said she would file a report with the council sometime this month on the issue.
City Attorney Robert Sullivan previously acknowledged the city does not proactively investigate people who may be using their homes or apartments for short-term rentals in violation of the city’s zoning allowance.
“I think the way I would say it now is that we enforce the zoning ordinance in connection with short-term rentals when we become aware of violations,” Sullivan said in a recent interview. “We don’t actively survey the internet looking for them. We don’t have the resources to do that.”
If you visit popular short-term rental sites like HomeAway or Airbnb.com it is not difficult to find listings for properties in Portsmouth, which Sullivan acknowledged.
“I am sure that there are short-term rentals being operated in the city,” he said.