SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Last minute changes to a short-term vacation rental ordinance amendment triggered a lengthy debate at Savannah City Council's latest meeting.
Stakeholders and those representing short-term vacation rentals argued the change, proposed by District 2 Alderman Bill Durrence, was not what was agreed on by all involved, including city staff, after taking weeks to reach a compromise.
City leaders say they're trying to keep the interests and quality of life of downtown residents at heart.
Alderman Durrence's proposal to change the STVR ordinance amendment dropped a jaw or two inside council chambers Thursday afternoon and prompted a pack of STVR reps to take the podium to make their case.
"As a practical matter, this change would mean that all owner-occupied parcels count toward the cap. And that was never the agreement. So, I would ask you to please just stick with the staff recommendation," said Robert McCorkle III, an attorney.
The ordinance did ultimately pass with Alderman Durrence's proposed change, which means all pre-existing STVR license's count toward the cap, or limit on the number of vacation rental properties per city ward.
Before Thursday's vote, city officials say there was no difference between a pre-existing owner-occupied and non-owner-occupied license, and staff and stakeholders worked for weeks to clarify and define that language.
As for the short-term vacation rental property owners, Mayor Eddie DeLoach says while they may not rake in the profit they hoped for, nothing was taken from them with Thursday's vote.
"I feel like they'll be made whole and they'll be fine. It might not be at the level they want to be, but we never all get to the level we want to be, but unfortunately we sided with the homeowners in this situation," Mayor DeLoach said.
The mayor says roughly 30-40 property owners in the downtown area will be directly affected by the vote.