Short-term rentals are one step closer to being legal in Jefferson City.
The Jefferson City Planning and Zoning Commission approved legalizing short-term rentals in the city limits Thursday. Currently, the city's zoning code prohibits residential property owners from renting out rooms in the city.
Websites like Airbnb allow property owners to rent their residences or individual rooms. As of Oct. 12, there were about 25 Jefferson City short-term rentals and bed-and-breakfasts listed on Airbnb.
The ordinance was introduced to the City Council Committee on Administration in August and the Planning and Zoning Commission discussed it last month.
The short-term rental ordinance will be presented to the City Council in December.
The proposed ordinance defines a short-term rental of a residence as a property owner renting his or her house to an individual for less than one month. A short-term rental of a lodging room is when a residential owner rents out a single room or basement to someone for less than one month. Short-term lodging room rentals would not contain multiple rentals in the same residence.
Originally, the ordinance stated the short-term rental length was seven consecutive nights. During last month's meeting, commission members said they thought seven nights might be too restrictive.
Short-term rentals are not uncommon around the country, Jefferson City Senior Planner Eric Barron said.
"We know that it's not going to go away and that other communities and experts have really come to the agreement that this is not necessarily something that you would want to prohibit outright," he said. "It is a growing trend for a reason, because people want to do this. This amendment that staff is proposing would accommodate that and would allow a process for people to go through to establish a short-term rental."
Under the proposed ordinance, a maximum of five unrelated people or an unlimited number of related individuals could stay in a short-term rental at a time.
Short-term rentals will be allowed in the commercial zoning districts and mixed-use districts. However, in single-family, multi-family and industrial zoning districts, property owners would need to apply for a special exception use permit.
The special exception use permit application cost $210.
The Planning and Zoning Commission would hold a public hearing about the permit and decide whether to approve it. If approved, it would go to the City Council for final approval.
The permit would be nontransferable since it would be issued in the property owner's name.
Renting accessory structures, like detached garages, would not be permitted. It is currently not permitted in the city code, either.
"We don't want to open the door up for people to either construct or convert other structures on their properties for this purpose," Barron said. "The short-term rental of a residence or lodging room is really meant and targeted toward existing residences, not other parts of a property that people might want to use for that purpose."
Bed-and-breakfast homes are allowed in Jefferson City under the zoning code, but bed-and-breakfast homes can't provide more than two guest rooms. A bed-and-breakfast inn can have more than two guest rooms, though.
According to city code, property owners who violate the zoning code could be fined up to $1,000, be imprisoned up to three months or both.
Under the proposed ordinance, offering a rental without a special exception use permit would be a violation.
Short-term rental property owners would be subject to applicable licenses and taxes, like the lodging tax, sales tax and city business licenses. Properties would also be required to follow fire code and building code inspection requirements.