Proposed Cobb short-term rental ordinance changes delayed

During a long meeting Tuesday to make amendments to the county code, Cobb commissioners voted to delay making changes regarding short-term rentals.Johnson Ferry-Shallowford master plan

The proposed changes include limiting rentals to 30 days and requiring owners to have an occupancy license and hiring an agent who could respond to complaints or other issues on short notice.

(You can read it here, on page 2, under Section 134-291. Details are on page 32.)

But after hearing from some property owners, civic leaders and advocates for the short-term rental industry, commissioners said they’ll wait.

That’s because of a bill introduced in the Georgia legislature, HB 523 (you can read it here).

The bill, sponsored by four State House members from other parts of Georgia, would bar local governments from issuing different regulations for properties used for rentals (including through such services as Airbnb) than any other residential properties.

HB 523 also would prohibit local governments from requiring a license or registration for owning a rental property, or from doing inspections or permitting.

The sponsors say local restrictions intrude on personal property rights, but the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia sees the bill as a preemption of local control.

The Cobb code amendments were proposed by East Cobb commissioners Bob Ott and JoAnn Birrell. The Cobb Planning Commission had asked for a delay to further craft the proposed changes.

“We believe there is a need for the regulation of this very large industry,” said Carol Brown of Canton Road Neighbors, whose group supported holding the short-term rental changes.

An East Cobb resident who spoke at Tuesday’s meeting said she rents out a portion of her home to bring in extra income after her husband died.

“Some proposals would make it impossible for people like me,” she said. “I’m just trying to make ends meet. The gig economy is here. You can’t put the genie back in the bottle.”

Katie McClure, a board member of the Short-Term Rental Owners Association of Georgia, said to commissioners that “we ask you to work with us to improve this ordinance.”

In making a motion to hold the short-term rental changes, Ott called for the creation of a task force to include relevant county staff and citizens to work on the ordinance and to monitor HB 523.

The bill has been reported favorably out of the House Regulated Industries Committee and awaits action by the Rules Committee before going to the full House.


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