The law and public safety committee met Tuesday to discuss a pawnbroker license application and the future of short-term rentals in Raleigh.
An officer from the Raleigh Police Department told the committee that the RPD would not be giving a favorable report for the pawnbroker license application of Tony Ro for World Gold and Pawn on Chapanoke Road.
Since the previous committee meeting, it was discovered that at a pawnshop in Cary owned by Ro there were 46 errors for more than 200 pawn tickets issued by the shop. In January, Ro was charged and arrested, as property was sold before the expiration of the mandatory hold placed on pawnshop acquisitions.
With this new information, the committee denied the pawnbroker license application.
The future of short-term rentals in Raleigh was also discussed. The chief aim of the committee meeting was to direct staff to explore options for allowing more short-term rentals in residential districts. That process would take place via new zoning regulations or special use permits.
“I’m for new technology, and not many are,” Councilor Odom said. “But the implementation of this is going to affect a great many people so we need to be careful about this.”
Some of the issues raised in the meeting concerned possible parking violations due to the influx of people seeking short-term rentals and the possibility of someone buying property and turning into a boardinghouse.
The citizens in attendance spoke highly of Airbnb, which is a company that matches renters with “unique places to stay from local hosts,” according to the company’s website. They said that because Airbnb “raids” establishments to see what the quality of the living conditions are, the company forces them to adhere to a high standard concerning the living conditions.
“I feel comfortable because there’s always someone there and I know who they are,” Jim Mellon, who rents out an apartment in his basement, said.
Greg Stebbin, another Airbnb supporter, talked about how Raleigh is a tech-savvy city and that turning their backs on Airbnb would cause the city to lose business from tech companies.
“If we turn our back on this, we prove we aren’t a tech-savvy city,” Stebbin said. He added, “I think Airbnb is an incredible opportunity for the city of Raleigh.”
The committee also discussed the issue of taxing the short-term rentals.
Councilor Baldwin said that it might be possible to collect back taxes through the information collected by the Wake County government and the city of Raleigh. “One of the requirements for doing business in this city is to collect and pay taxes.”
Travis Crane, the planning and zoning administrator for the city of Raleigh, said the these establishments have been allowed in a limited number of zoning districts throughout the city under the “bed-and-breakfast” code which allows businesses to operate in residential areas. Many requires special permits.
“It’s important to know that this isn’t a new issue,” Crane said.
The committee directed Crane to explore the options of drafting zoning regulations with specific standards for short-term rentals and of issuing special use permits for these establishments.
“I’m a business guy,” Councilor Odom said. “I think about business all the time. I think this is a good idea. I just want to be very cautious.”