On Tuesday, June 27th, the Chattanooga City Council had an city council agenda meeting to decide what direction the City Council would go later that evening on several issues. One of those issues was Short Term Vacation Rentals (STVRs). A certain private school in the proposed STVR zone did not want to have STVRs nearby and was asking for a buffer between schools & STVRs to keep their kids “safe.” No other school sincerely joined the “buffer zone” pursuit. Wild claims were thrown out trying to link STVRs to sex offenders, prostitution, and drug sales without presenting any evidence of any of those illicit behaviors. One STVR owner called the Chattanooga Police department to ask them if they had seen any link between those kinds of illicit activities and STVRs. The police said that there was no link. STVR owners sited the multiple layers of security that the short term rental platforms provide. An STVR owner has to be very careful to respect their neighbors as well if they want to continue to operate. An attorney for the concerned private school pointed out the long disclaimer that the short term rental platforms gave concerning their background checks. Realtor, Nathan Walldorf, stood up after the attorney to say that Realtors and most all businesses have disclaimers as well; it is part of doing business. He then presented info from the short term vacation rental platforms about the criminal, sex offender, and even terrorists databases that the short term rental platform searches for guests and hosts.
Councilman Chip Henderson proposed to vote on the STVR Ordinance as it was already written with no added amendments to create a school buffer zone. He almost sounded offended at the Chattanooga City Council meeting that anyone would think that the City Council would create an ordinance that puts schools in danger after all of the work that the council had put into the ordinance. He didn’t say that explicitly, but he did make a comment about the hard work they put into the ordinance. The ordinance passed with 7 votes in favor and 1 vote against. The vote against the STVR ordinance had to do with not being able to amend the zone to include the Glenwood neighborhood.
In October there will be an application process to receive a STVR permit. The homes have to meet some fire marshal safety standards and the neighbors to the homes will be given notice of the proposed STVR application. Now there will be a process for taking STVRs out of business if they are not responsible hosts. All of the hosts I know have been responsible and have been great neighbors, but I am glad there is some recourse for the STVR owners who are not great neighbors.
Thank you Chattanooga City Council for your hard work and leadership!