Negotiations continue between residents, rental owners in short-term rental discussion

(Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC)
(Source: City of Savannah)
(Source: City of Savannah)
(Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC)

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Negotiations between residents and short-term vacation rental owners will continue past Friday's original deadline.

Savannah city leaders are now hoping to have a proposal on the city manager's desk by Tuesday. The proposal will discuss how to regulate and manage the growing industry.

Agreeing upon a density limit when it comes to these short-term rental properties is the main issue. The residents we spoke with are fine with rental properties in their neighborhood, they just want there to be a cap on how many there can be.

The short-term rental industry is a young one in Savannah; it's an industry likely to only grow in the coming years. That's the reason city leaders want a comprehensive plan on regulating and managing it. One neighborhood they're looking at is Thomas Square in midtown.

"We're trying to figure out what are appropriate limitations and what are appropriate regulations so that we don't see the density and clustering that has happened downtown," said resident Clinton Edminster.

You see that density as you start to head towards the Victorian and downtown neighborhood.

"The people really don't have a sense of community or sense of place," said resident Mike Ambrose.

The high density of these short-term rental properties is a big concern for people like Ambrose. He said in three blocks of West Waldburg from Forsyth Park to Barnard, 25 percent of the properties are short-term rentals.

"We want to generate more neighbors. Neighbors help each other. They join organizations and churches," said Ambrose.

On one side of the table, you have the neighborhood associations. On the other side, you have the rental property owners and managers.

"Our industry is much younger than most but it's proven popular as a lodging option," said Lucky Savannah Rental Company owner Corey Jones.

In a survey given to downtown residents, many responded that their main concerns are noise, party like atmospheres and parking problems. Jones said those issues don't accurately describe most of his renters.

"The rental manager and individual property owners, they do care about Savannah. They do care about protecting the neighborhood.  They care finding that proper balance," said Jones.

It's an issue that will continue to spur debate in a city so dependent on tourism. Residents here just hope their opinion factors into city council's decision.

The tourism department hopes to have that recommendation into the city manager's office next week. He will then present it to the council sometime in July.

Council is still set to vote on the 90-day moratorium on rental licenses at next week's meeting.

In a survey for rental owners, 60 percent say the properties they rent are their primary or secondary home. Forty percent say they're investment properties.

Another interesting note, 80 percent of downtown residents who responded to the survey believe the density of rental properties is already too high downtown. An overwhelming majority support a cap on short-term rental properties.

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