Short-term rentals a hot topic at Tybee Public Safety Committee meeting

Short-term rentals a hot topic at Tybee Public Safety Committee meeting

TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) - A Public Safety Committee held a meeting on Thursday morning for the City of Tybee Island to discuss some potential changes that could impact tourists visiting the area.

Short-term rental properties were a big talking point at the meeting. The committee looked at calls to the police department and how many were related to short-term rental properties.

Out of 12,000 calls since Jan. 1, 2019, about 290 were calls dispatching police to a short-term rental, or someone calling about one. Not every call was in reference to a law being broken.

Tybee Island Police just got new technology and software that will help them collect and track this data. So far, six properties have a citation or arrest made at the property.

According to Tybee’s disorderly house ordinance that went into effect in May, three stikes in one year results in a meeting with the city manager and even penalties that could include losing your license.

Not all six of those properties will receive a strike. For example, one was the property being broken into. Tybee has only been regulating short-term vacation rentals for three years.

“To officials in this city, it is an extraordinarily important topic and I know it’s an important topic of discussion in the election and things like that, so it’s part of the public dialogue," City Manager Shawn Gillen said. "A very intense part of the public dialogue about short-term vacation rentals, especially people that live here full-time who live in a neighborhood where there’s a lot of them surrounding their home. You get different people in every week. Some are quiet, some are loud, some stay up late, some don’t, so if you get that constantly happening it can become very frustrating, and so, the council has asked us to try to come up with different ways to try to address this and the difficulty is it is a private property.”

There are more and more short-term rental properties popping up every day, everywhere. With websites like Airbnb changing the way that the tourism industry works, Tybee Island knows that they’re going to have to continue to evolve and change as well.

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