Posted: July 9, 2018
The city of Charleston’s new Short Term Rental (STR) Ordinance will take effect as of midnight July 9, 2018. The ordinance, adopted by City Council in April, establishes clear STR eligibility guidelines within Charleston’s historic districts. The ordinance also provides the city with the infrastructure it needs to effectively monitor compliance, an issue HCF’s advocacy team will be watching closely.
Information on STRs, eligibility requirements and instructions on how to file a complaint may be found at http://charleston-sc.gov/shorttermrentals.
The Foundation has effectively represented its constituents on the STR issue for almost two years, serving on the Short Term Rental Task Force, meeting with industry experts and advocating for regulation during public hearings and in individual meetings with elected officials. “Short Term Rentals posed an imminent threat to the cultural character and livability of our neighborhoods,” said Winslow Hastie, President and CEO of Historic Charleston Foundation. “Whole-house STRs and rentals where the owner was not required to remain on the property were particularly concerning to HCF. We consider the implementation of this ordinance which specifically addresses these two key issues as a significant victory for livability and for the historic preservation movement in Charleston, yet we have lingering concerns over the STR issue.”
Enforcing the Ordinance
As Hastie points out, “The success of the Ordinance will lie in the city’s ability to enforce it.” To that end, three new STR enforcement personnel have been hired to investigate complaints and reports of non-compliance. Also, the city is encouraging residents to help monitor compliance within their own neighborhoods. Complaints and reports of non-compliance should be addressed to the Office of Livability at 843.724.3779 or directly to STR personnel at [email protected]. Noise complaints related to STRs should be directed to the police at 843.577.7434.
While this ordinance is an appropriate first step, the concern over STRs is far from settled. City planning and zoning bodies continue to approve numerous STRs via alternate approval processes not governed by the new ordinance. HCF steadfastly advocates against the proliferation of STRs and other accommodations uses in Charleston.
HCF Calls for Reform
“The STR Ordinance is a critical first step, yet we also need reform of the accommodations use approval process,” Hastie said. HCF is working with city staff to revive their efforts to reform the accommodations use approval process after a first attempt was defeated last year by City Council. The repeated, agenda-after-agenda refusal by the Planning Commission and the Board of Zoning Appeals-Zoning to use their legal authority to deny accommodations applications continues to threaten livability. As an example, last month the Planning Commission approved the rezoning of seven houses near the intersection of King and Shepard streets from general business or residential use to non-owner occupied short term rentals.
Many HCF constituents engaged on this issue and YOU made a difference! We hope you will continue to raise your voices and join with us to reform of the accommodations use approval process.