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Realtors lash out at Bieter’s proposed restrictions on Boise Airbnb rentals

The Big Idaho Potato, which crisscrossed the nation for six years as an ambassador for the Idaho Potato Commission, has been turned into an Airbnb rental in Orchard, southeast of Boise. The one-room accommodation is aimed at couples. Photo by John Sowell/Idaho Statesman

The trade association for residential real estate agents says it will oppose Boise Mayor David Bieter’s efforts to regulate short-term rentals, such as those on Airbnb.

Bieter has proposed new restrictions, including a requirement that owners who rent out space in their home live at the property and obtain a permit. Properties would have to comply with the city’s development code on parking, open space and other requirements.

“We are fundamentally opposed to this restriction of private property rights,” Phil Mount, the president of Boise Regional Realtors, said Friday in a news release. “This is a significant overstep that threatens one of the most basic precepts of property ownership: the right to rent.”

Mike Journee, Bieter’s spokesman, said nothing has been decided.

“The intent behind these proposals were to help alleviate the challenges of increasing rents that so many in our community are having issues with and that have been prevalent in the community’s dialogue of late,” Journee said in an email.

A number of cities have passed measures to limit the number of short-term rentals, popularly listed on Airbnb, Vacasa and other websites. Portland and New York City implemented “one host, one home” policies that allow a host to list only one home on the site.

Cities such as San Francisco, Louisville and Boston require hosts to register their Airbnbs. New Orleans severely limits rentals where an owner does not live on-site.

Mount said that instead of creating new regulations or restrictions, the city should use code enforcement to enforce laws already in place, instead of “singling out short-term rentals as the neighborhood scapegoat.”

The proposed ordinance would apply only to new short-term rentals. Existing ones would be grandfathered.

Boise has no regulations in place for short-term rentals. Idaho law prevents cities from prohibiting them outright, but grants cities the power to regulate them “as it deems necessary to safeguard the public health, safety and general welfare in order to protect the integrity of residential neighborhoods.”

“The proposed short-term rental ordinance from the City of Boise is a clear overreach, attempting to skirt Idaho code,” Raphael Barta, president of Idaho Realtors, which also opposes the restrictions, said in the same news release.

Since 2016, the number of short-term rentals in Boise has increased from 336 to 1,183, according to data from AirDNA, a short-term rental analytics company.

At the same time, Boise renters are facing a shortage of available housing. The rental vacancy rate in the city dipped to 2% in 2018, compared with 8% in 2009.

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