Roseville City Council halts licensing of new short-term rentals

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The Roseville City Council voted last week to stop licensing new short-term rental properties while officials consider changes to the regulatory framework that governs them.

Since creating the licensing requirement two years ago, the council has approved applications from the owners of seven Roseville properties to operate them as short-term rentals, which guests book through apps like Airbnb and Vrbo.

But after complaints from neighbors, who say the properties often host loud parties and clog residential streets with parked vehicles, council members passed an ordinance on Feb. 13 that prohibits any new licenses from being issued.

“This is intended to be a temporary measure to provide the city with the opportunity to have additional research and conversations about the issue,” Mayor Dan Roe said before the vote.

“This is certainly not intended this evening to be the initiation of a permanent ban on short-term rental licenses,” he added, noting that such a ban is, however, one possible outcome of the council’s review of the issue.

The move does not affect current license-holders, who will still be permitted to apply for renewal when their license expires.

“I think it’s a matter of fairness,” Council Member Wayne Goff said during the meeting. “I don’t want to punish people who have been acting in good faith.”

Michelle Mulvehill, who operates a licensed short-term rental on McCarrons Lake in Roseville, told the council she already has guests booked beyond her renewal date and would face financial penalties from Airbnb if she were forced to cancel those reservations.

Several council members expressed a desire to wrap up their review before the city’s first license expires in June.

“We should do this quickly,” Council Member Julie Strahan said. “We shouldn’t drag our feet.”

Some of the modifications discussed at the meeting include capping the number of short-term rental licenses granted in the city, limiting the number of short-term rentals within a given geographic area, and implementing better mechanisms for enforcing the laws that govern them.

Like several other Twin Cities municipalities, Roseville opted two years ago to regulate the fast-growing short-term rental market.

The City Council passed an ordinance requiring only non-owner-occupied properties be licensed before being listed on rental apps like Airbnb and Vrbo. Homeowners who live in a house and rent it out on weekends, for example, do not need a license.

Licensed short-term rental owners pay a $515 fee, along with the same lodging taxes paid by hotels in the city.

During peak season, from May 1 through Oct. 1, the minimum stay allowed at a licensed rental is 10 days, while the off-peak minimum is seven days.

A license can be suspended if the property is cited for two violations of the city statutes within a 180-day period, or if the police chief determines a single violation constitutes a threat to public safety.

As of last week’s meeting, none of the city’s licensed properties have been cited for a violation.

Nonetheless, several Roseville residents who live near short-term rentals testified last week and at a January council meeting that the properties have had a negative impact on their neighborhood, prompting fears of increased crime and declining property values.

Rental owners like Mulvehill said their guests are well-behaved and adhere to posted rules about quiet hours and occupancy limits.

“I don’t think any of my neighbors would complain,” she said. “I have almost exclusively families, a lot of grandparents.”

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