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Burlington City Council passes Short Term Rental restrictions

Burlington City Hall
Pat Bradley/WAMC
Burlington City Hall (file)

As part of a busy meeting Tuesday night, the Burlington, Vermont City Council voted to restrict short-term rentals.

Public comments focused on a proposal to revise the city’s Short Term Rental ordinance. Vermont Short Term Rental Alliance member Julia Marks was among the majority expressing opposition to the measure.

“Our assessment is that this highly restrictive ordinance will cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue and economic activity and diminish the amount of capital investment being added to Burlington’s aging housing structures. From the beginning our primary recommendations toward regulating Short Term Rentals have been to implement a registration and monitoring system first." Marks continued, "It is disappointing that this does not seem to be the direction the council’s going to take. Banning Short term Rentals will be ineffective towards the goal of creating more housing.”

South District Democrat Joan Shannon says the intent of the resolution is to preserve the city’s long-term housing and restore unpermitted, illegal short-term rental units to the housing stock.

“The main requirements are that your short term rentals have to be within your primary residence, that you can’t rent more than three rooms and you have to register the property," Shannon explained. "The amendment that was offered with my motion also allows for a short term rental in a duplex or multi-unit building where you have a Section Eight rental. You may then offset that Section Eight rental with one short term rental.”

Mayor Miro Weinberger, a Democrat, said the city needs stricter Short Term Rental regulations. But he threatened a possible veto if amendments failed.

“The unamended version of the ordinance would be one of the most restrictive Short Term Rental ordinances in the country. It goes too far and is too intrusive and I do believe it will have significant negative community and economic consequences as written. It’s going to be very challenging for me to sign off on an unamended version of this ordinance.”

Two amendments failed on 6-6 votes. The council then passed the Short Term Rental restriction ordinance on an 8-4 vote.

City leaders also decided not to extend an indoor mask mandate that expires on March 3rd.

Weinberger’s office announced last week that the first and only director of its Racial Equity, Inclusion and Belonging department would leave her position on March 10th to “pursue other opportunities.” During City Council General Affairs reports, Progressive Council President Max Tracy, who ran against Mayor Weinberger last year, implied the mayor is to blame for her departure.

“This is just a tremendous loss for our city. What we’re hearing and what actually happened there’s a significant discrepancy. Doing this kind of work is not easy. It’s unfortunate that we’ve come to find out and we know that this work was made more difficult by the obstruction she experienced during her time working in and with this administration.”

Tracy is not seeking re-election on Town Meeting Day next month.

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