CONTACT GOVERNOR COOPER
September 30, 2021
Dear Governor Cooper,
We need your help!
Proponents of short term rental business have been relentless in proposing legislation to the Senate and House over the last few years to override local control of zoning related to short term rentals to the determent of homeowners in established quiet neighborhoods. The long term goal appears to be elimination of any local restrictions on short term rentals thereby threatening the quality of life in long established neighborhoods.
We have worked with the Town of Blowing Rock and the League of Municipalities to track legislation and try to educate legislators on the negative impact of proposed legislation on small resort towns like Blowing Rock. We enjoy both the benefits of homeownership in established neighborhoods and short term rental ownership in designated downtown districts.
We understand that you will soon be discussing the 2021 Appropriations Act with the leadership of the General Assembly. We ask that you negotiate for removal of Sections 5.15(a) and (b) entitled PERIODIC INSPECTIONS FOR HAZARDOUS CONDITIONS.
These sections are unrelated to budget applicable matters and also to the title attached to them. Instead, they would deny local governments the ability to regulate with permits or registration requirements the short term rental of residential real property. As drafted, the provision would have retroactive as well as prospective effect and would make void and unenforceable any existing inconsistent ordinances, without regard to how long they have been in effect or the type of community they affect. The text of Section 5.15 is lifted from bills that passed the House earlier this year (H829 and H911) with substantial opposition and currently reside in the Senate Rules committee. Given their significant impact on the many resort communities in our state, they deserve a full debate on the merits and the opportunity for amendment, rather than slipping into effectiveness via the back door of the budget bill.
With respect to the merits of the legislation, there are many issues presented, including the following:
(1) Zoning permits and exceptions are inherently local matters and, as a general matter, not appropriate for statewide control;
(2) The impact of the legislation will primarily be felt in NC resort communities which have very different histories and current situations with respect to short term rentals. Our coastal communities have a long history of short term (generally by the week) rental activity while our mountain resort communities tend to attract more long term (monthly and full season) rentals.
(3) Where they exist, current local regulations generally try to strike a balance between allowing what is essentially commercial activity in commercial areas and limiting those activities in areas that are zoned residential and contain mostly owner-occupied homes or homes occupied by long term renters. To the extent that local property owners would like to strike a different balance, this can be accomplished at the local level. For the state to paint all of our communities with one brush fails to take into account the unique aspects that make each of our resort communities attractive to those who choose them.
(4) There are serious questions about the impact of increased and largely unregulated short term rental activity in established residential neighborhoods on property values in those areas. Changing a community’s character with noise, speed and volume of traffic, parking unavailability, and excessive trash are all associated with short term rentals, and do nothing to preserve or enhance property values. On the other hand, property owners who own property that is not subject to restrictive covenants may wish to be able to rent it, either long term and short term. Balancing property values against property rights is best handled at the local level where neighborhood character and history and desires of actual property owners are better known and ascertainable.
These and other issues raised by Section 5.15 deserve serious consideration. This can be accomplished by allowing the existing House bills to run their course in the Senate in the remainder of the session. Allowing these provisions to ride the coattails of the Appropriations Act without that opportunity would be a disservice to communities throughout the state.