St. Paul considers regulating Airbnb

A lot of eyes are on St. Paul as they decide whether to regulate short term rentals like Airbnb.

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Some Twin Cities Airbnb property owners are already raising their rates for Super Bowl week in anticipation of booming business, but in St. Paul some are worried about possible new regulations.

St. Paul's Planning Commission held a public hearing Friday, as the city considers whether to add regulations for short term rentals like Airbnb and VRBO that would go into effect before the Super Bowl.

The regulations would look at where Airbnbs are located and their occupant number. The regulations would also add a licensing fee.

Some property owners say they're concerned about whether they'll be able to continue making a profit. 

"I really want to make sure that the business continues," said Shelly Campbell, who spoke at the hearing and owns an Airbnb property on the west side of St. Paul. "I know it is a business, but it is an asset to the neighborhood as well."

Sean Doyle was another speaker at the hearing. He rents out two rooms in his home through Airbnb. He says he makes enough to cover his bills, but he is concerned about the prospect of new regulations and fees.

"I hope the commission takes into account the little guy," said Doyle. "Being an artist and working out of my home--this allows me a freedom I've never had before to focus on my dreams, my life goals."

City officials say there is currently no licensing or regulation for short term rentals.

"We looked to see if there had been lots of problems around the short term rentals, and we didn't find specific problems," said Jonathan Sage-Martinson, director of planning and economic development for the City of Saint Paul. "What we did find is that our current code didn't contemplate their use."

 
Bed and breakfast owner Pam Biladeau also attended the hearing. She spoke out in support of regulating Airbnb and other short term rentals.
 
"We just ask that they come up to compliance, pay the taxes, keep it a residential neighborhood unless it's approved for a business like we did," said Biladeau.
 
The planning commission is welcoming written public comments on the topic now through Monday. They plan to vote on whether to pass the proposed regulations on to Saint Paul City Council next month.

© 2017 KARE-TV


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