Tybee Island city council passes ordinance on short-term vacation rentals

Published: Nov. 10, 2021 at 10:39 PM EST
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TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) - Short term vacation rentals are a big talker on Tybee Island.

An ordinance to limit occupancy and capacity, as well as a resolution to limit new permits took center stage Wednesday night at Tybee Island’s city council meeting.

Council approved one section of the short-term vacation rental ordinance along with a resolution that extends the moratorium on issuing new permits.

More than a dozen people spoke before council Wednesday night. A majority expressed support for short term vacation rentals saying they help Tybee’s economy.

“Tourism is our life blood on this island. Without it, we die. We don’t have anything. The very people you eventually want as your neighbors, the people that retire here, will not buy homes that they now cannot rent out.”

However, there were some residents who want more rules in place or want a cap on the number of rentals in residential areas.

“You do not deal with a drug addiction crisis by distributing more drugs. When the STVR market is flooded, competition will drive the prices down. The bottom will fallout, the island will overdose.”

One section of the short-term vacation rental ordinance makes an occupancy limit for rentals to two adults per bedroom, with two additional adults and anyone 16 or older would be considered an adult.

“I think Tybee has really taken a lead over the last couple, two, three years addressing this. We’ve had committees looking at it. We’ve had input from residents and all stakeholders,” said Mayor Shirley Sessions.

Council also approved to extend the mortarium on issuing new permits until April 30, 2022. The Tybee Island Association of Rental Agents says the city has 811 short-term rentals in zoned residential areas.

The spokesperson says most of the island’s overnight visitors stay in them.

“Our guests as well as our visitors are major contributors to our economy. I would hope that any considerations for policy changes that they take in the economics of the situation that our guests, our visitors and our owners contribute to the livelihood of our community,” said Amy Gaster, co-owner of Tybee Vacation Rentals.

Mayor Sessions says the occupancy limit on short term vacation rentals goes into effect immediately.

The second section of the short-term vacation rental ordinance discusses caps on rentals. Council voted to delay any action on that until city staff can provide an accurate number of how many there are in zoned residential areas.

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