Hudson leaders will view revised proposal to regulate short-term rentals

Council expected to review legislation that would require operator to acquire license

Phil Keren
Kent Weeklies
The city of Hudson announced a street parking ban is in effect through Tuesday, Feb. 16, at 1 p.m.

HUDSON — City Council will review a revised version of legislation designed to regulate short-term residential rental properties at its next meeting on Jan. 19.

The city does not currently regulate short-term rentals such as Airbnbs and VRBOs. The idea of potentially regulating such properties became a discussion item after many residents voiced concerns about a party in October at a home on Windsor Road that was being used as a short-term rental. 

During a council workshop Jan. 12, the city administration shared three potential options for crafting regulations to address short-term rental properties: licensing; zoning; and a blended approach that includes elements of licensing and zoning.

Under the proposed legislation currently before council, a short-term rental operator must apply for and acquire a license to operate. The license would have provisions that must be met.

Council members indicated they favored a blended approach using both licensing and zoning regulations. As a first step, legislators asked the administration to amend the proposed licensing legislation and have it ready for council to review at its meeting Jan. 19 at 7:30 p.m.

Based on a suggestion from City Manager Jane Howington, council on Jan. 12 agreed to have the administration revise the licensing legislation proposal to incorporate a public input step in the licensing process and to put in more language to ensure the license is non-transferable. Council also said they would like the license to be good for one year instead of two years as originally proposed.

"We could amend [the licensing legislation]," said Howington. "We could have you consider it next week and get that going."

Howington also told council, "I think that you would want to get the licensing in place and then determine if you want to go that extra mile to get the zoning in place so that there could be additional requirements based on public input."

Council President Bill Wooldredge (at-large) said he concurred with that approach.

"It's a simple approach," said Wooldredge. "…if we can incorporate the public hearing or public comment period [into the licensing regulations]  the enforcement of that is much easier than the zoning approach."

Wooldredge said enacting the licensing legislation would allow the city to get something in place quickly and noted that council could then spend time setting up more regulations through the city's zoning code.

Council member Skylar Sutton (Ward 3) said if a public hearing step could be added into the proposed licensing legislation, "I'm OK with going with a licensing approach, especially because it puts us into implementation sooner than later."

"We need to have something in place so we can start addressing some of these bad actors," said Sutton.

Hudson City Solicitor Matt Vazzana noted a license spells out specific requirements that the license holder must meet and said the license holder can be punished if they don't comply with those standards.

Vazzana said licensing is "a very good tool" to use in connection with punishing short-term rental property operators who may not be meeting their commitments.

"We have a right to pull that license," said Vazzana.

While the zoning procedures that have an operator acquire approval from the planning commission works well on the front end, Vazzana said it is more difficult for his department to punish someone who holds a conditional use zoning certificate.

If council decided to also address the issue through zoning regulations, Vazzana explained that having a license to operate could be one of the conditions that an operator must meet in order to receive a conditional use zoning certificate.

"That's the connecting piece between both sides of this, and that's what becomes a blended approach," said Vazzana. "The conversation that we have on the license is relevant and informs what we do, whether it be just the license or a blended approach with zoning and the license."

Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at pkeren@thebeaconjournal.com, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.