Work continues on Tybee’s new short-term vacation rental ordinance

Published: Jan. 31, 2022 at 4:49 PM EST
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TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) - Tybee Island city leaders are continuing to crack down on new short-term vacation rentals.

A moratorium preventing people from registering new rental properties has been in place since August.

The city council gave city staff four specific tasks to complete. As of Friday, all of them have been done. City Manager Shawn Gillen says having these tasks done is great, but the moratorium won’t end until the new STVR ordinance is written.

“We’re getting ready to handle whatever changes they make to the ordinance,” Gillen said.

So, what tasks did they finish? First, city staff were asked to come up with a method for determining permits with no activity and their possible removal from the rolls.

“Basically, what we look at is hotel/motel tax activity and that’s something that the ordinance will have to guide us on,” Gillen said.

Then, Gillen says they had to find a fair way to issue new permits. He says if the city decides to put a cap on the number of STVR’s there will be a waiting list and once a permit becomes available - it’s first come first serve.

“If there is a limit then we would know whose application is first in line,” Gillen said.

The third task was to establish a method for determining the current number of residences and rental permits by zone. They decided that each property owner would be required to list the property’s zoning category on the permit application, which Gillen says wasn’t part of the application before.

“Staff will have to go back and verify those based on a zoning list,” Gillen said.

Tybee Island resident Pat Leiby says zoning is important in keeping neighborhoods, neighborhoods.

“Neighborhoods that used to get together for events don’t do it anymore because there’s no neighbors and I have sympathy for that because I think Tybee Island in general is a community where we help each other,” Leiby said.

Lastly, the city had to come up with a way to prevent permit renewals if the property owner isn’t complying with rules and guidelines or paying taxes.

“If someone isn’t in good standing, they won’t be issued a permit,” Gillen said.

Gillen says each of these are important in maintaining the quality of life for residents. Leiby says she feels the city is moving in the right direction in finding solutions to an issue so often debated on the island.

“It does help the economy that’s why we have so many nice restaurants, so we can’t do away with visitors. But how do we control it and manage it, so it doesn’t affect the residents as much,” Leiby said.

Gillen says the once the ordinance is final, the council will have to review it, debate it, get public input, and pass it. He says because of the time this takes it’s hard to put a time stamp on when the moratorium will end.

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