city council

Tim Gartin at the Sept. 25 Ames City Council meeting.

The Ames City Council moved toward crafting an ordinance relating to short-term rentals as there is no language within the Ames code that differentiates or defines short-term rentals compared to any other rental.

With the passage of a rental ordinance in May, the City of Ames limited the number of rental properties within seven neighborhoods near campus to 25 percent, meaning short term rental services like Airbnb would contribute to the rental cap.

The council looked into three options to help staff come back with an ordinance they could vote on.

The first option was in relation to one-family and two-family occupancies that have short term rentals with an annual permit.

Ward One Representative Gloria Betcher said she was concerned with allowing too many ways for these short term rentals to come as they could be predatory.

“There are ordinances in cities around the country where short term rental ordinances are being scaled back as predatory practices are happening,” Betcher said. “Large-scale companies will come in, buy homes and use the short-term rental provisions.”

Betcher said this could be an issue as short-term rentals typically charge a larger fee for how long a resident stays compared to long-term rental properties, driving up housing costs.

Ward Two Representative Tim Gartin questioned if these claims were true, to which Betcher said these practices had caused the city of New Orleans to scale back their short-term rental policies.

At-Large Representative Amber Corrieri said she didn’t think this would be as big of an issue as Betcher claims.

“We already have multiple organizations in Ames that own single family homes in Ames,” Corrieri said. “That is currently the case.”

Corrieri suggested a motion to the council that would allow for short term rentals in single and two-family homes if they are granted an annual license and show proof that they have payed a hotel or motel tax.

The motion passed on a 4-2 decision with Betcher and Ward Three Representative David Martin voting against it.

The second option was to allow for new classifications of multi-family residencies with short term rentals, and gives a different path for those residences to get their short term rental approved.

A motion to allow these multi-family residency short term rentals in all available districts and areas passed on a 5-1 decision. Betcher was the sole vote in opposition.

The final option was not adopted but discussed. This option would have changed the zoning standards for houses in medical districts in Ames which currently don’t allow for short-term rentals.

Houses near Mary Greeley Medical Center would be unable to host an Airbnb as a result.

The council decided to push back the decision until staff could come back with more information on houses within medical districts in Ames.

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