Debate over limits on short-term rentals continues in St. Charles

City council to vote Tuesday night on ordinance proposal to limit the number of short-term rentals across city limits
Published: Aug. 1, 2022 at 9:45 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Concerns of over-saturation and crime have the City of St. Charles entertaining an ordinance to limit the number of short-term rentals inside the city limits. The proposal is up for a final vote Tuesday.

Short-term rentals include Airbnb and Vrbo, unlike long-term rentals like a traditional rental where an occupant rents month-to-month.

As the number of these short-term rentals grow in St. Charles, so are the mixed opinions.

“I think people who come enjoy Airbnb will enjoy the neighborhood and the city and all the things we have going on,” City of St. Charles resident Jacob Scerbo shared. “This is a great place.”

“We don’t need that in our neighborhoods,” resident JoAnn Gresso shared. “We’re just a family-friendly little town. If they want that, they can just go out to a motel.”

Jeff Lage, owner of Lage Real Estate, see this issue differently. He owns more than 50 properties within the city limits. He said short-term rentals are a solid investment.

“We are buying a lot of houses not in good condition, but great location,” Lage explained. “We invest a lot. That’s bringing up a house to its’ best use no one else was touching.”

Lage told News 4 he thinks there are too many short-term rentals in Ward 1 – an area of highest concern for the city council. When asked what makes his properties different from others, he says there isn’t and that all properties need to be on file, and taxed appropriately.

“We are no better or worse,” Lage shared. “I do think that Airbnb and Vrbo have a good system of ratings. The guests rate you. If you do well, you keep getting booked, if not, you get weeded out.”

The city of St. Charles reported more than 60 short-term rental properties permitted in the city, as of July. More than 40 are in the downtown area.

Local leaders worry more than 100 additional short-term rentals operate off the books. That sometimes leads to crime.

“We don’t want that. We vet at the beginning so we can avoid that anyway. It’s easy enough to book the house, we don’t need it to be a party,” Lage said.

Before city leaders target the rule-breakers, they want to make sure they have rules on the books.

“Airbnbs are a great thing, in terms of economic development within the city, but like everything, they need reasonable regulations,” Community Development Director Zach Tusinger said.

Those potential regulations include:

  • A conditional use permit for short-term rentals in residential areas
  • A 500-foot buffer to avoid overcrowding
  • A 150-unity maximum of these types of rentals across the entire city.

Altogether, it’ll cost a property owner about $650 annually to maintain licenses and permits to operate.

“That will weed out anyone wanting those $50 places [for rent], you have those, you aren’t attracting who I think St. Charles is trying to attract,” Lage said.

In the last six months, reports from across the bi-state have emerged of violent crime connected to individuals staying in a short-term rental. It’s caused some companies, like Airbnb to re-evaluate policies. Lage said bad behavior and property damage sometimes are part of the deal with renting properties. He said he applauds the city of St. Charles for its proactive approach.

“We’ve had damage to this house. it’s minimal. It’ll happen. you’ll have issues where people try to throw a party. As a host, we don’t want that either. We don’t want any more than a neighbor does. They damage our property, creating, chaos, and the police get called. We don’t want that.”

News 4 reported last month, that city leaders estimate they’ll bring in roughly $500,000 annually just off annual fees and permits.

Lage said if a rumored 2% tax kicks in down the road, it’s a respectable money stream for the city.

“At least a million a year, if they do this correctly, and pass what they are talking about,” Lage shared. “I think roughly a million a year.”

What residents and investors who spoke with News 4 do agree on, they want these rentals spread evenly across the city, not just in Wards 1 and 2 near downtown.

The city of St. Charles is giving property owners until the end of 2022 to get permits in order. City leaders have January 1, 2023 set as the date for everyone to play by the new rules, again if passed.

The final vote for this proposal is Tuesday.