St. Charles City Council advances effort to limit short-term rentals

Published: Jul. 19, 2022 at 10:27 PM CDT
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ST. CHARLES, Mo. (KMOV) - The City of St. Charles has more than 60 short-term rentals peppered throughout it’s limits. 40 alone are in and around the city’s historic Main Street.

The concern is more than 100 short-term rentals are operating illegally right now.

Community Development Director Zach Tusinger said the city isn’t in a position to go after the offenders individually. The strategy then is to establish clear regulations for operators to follow.

“The bill in front of us is not talking about banning AirBnBs, but it’s not opening the floodgates either,” Tusinger told News 4 just outside city chambers Tuesday.

A new proposal, discussed at a special meeting prior to Tuesday night’s city council meeting, calls for regaining control and includes conditional use permits requirements in residential areas.

Plus, a 500-foot buffer preventing a situation where seven or eight short-term rentals on a single block

Lastly, it would place a 1 percent cap on housing units in St. Charles.

“That means there are 30,000 housing units city-wide, so no more than 1 percent can be short-term rentals,” Tusinger explained. “So that roughly translates to 300 short-term rentals.”

Ward 3 Council Member Vince Ratchford has spearheaded an effort to better regulate these businesses since last December. While he was not able to speak with News 4, he wanted the city to limit short-term rentals to .5 percent of housing units in the city.

Ward 2 Council Member Tom Besselman agreed.

“We can come together as a group to cut 1 percent to a different number for a while until we see how this plays out,” Besselman said.

Lindenwood University’s growth is a big factor. The university just went Division 1 earlier this year.

Ward 6 Councilmember Justin Foust wants the city to be able to handle an influx of guests. He said the city stands to make about a $500,000 in tax revenue if it granted 300 short-term rentals in residential areas and another 100 in a commercial zone.

“We are always trying to create tourist attractions, Main Street goes nuts if it doesn’t go its way,” Foust shared. “We’re bringing all this business here, but I guess you just want them to stay in hotels I guess.”

Right now, approval for applications for these short-term rentals have been paused at city hall. The goal is to allow these applications to be processed by the end of August and then start the new cycle of charging the annual $100 fee in January 2023.

Ratchford’s amendment was approved by the city council. It limits the total number of short-term rentals to .5 percent of housing units in the city.

This means the current maximum for rentals like AirBnB and Vrbo, is 150 inside the city limits.

As Besselman suggested, other council members may agree to return to this conversation if and when the city comes close to reaching that maximum number of short-term properties.

A second reading is required for this amendment which will happen at the city council in two weeks, on August 2.