City extends vacation rental moratorium

By EMILY SCHABACKER/Montana State News

Bozeman City Commissioners voted to extend the interim ban that prevents homeowners from renting out rooms or houses for short term stays on Feb. 6. City commissioners agreed to adopt an ordinance that allows a six-month extension to the ban in order to conduct further research on the impact of private home rentals in the community.

Originally, the ban was adopted to remove short term rentals from the three zoning districts for six months so city staff could “investigate, to start conversations with the community, research the best practice and bring the issues back to (the commission),” said Chuck Winn, assistant city manager.

In a 4-1 vote, commissioners agreed to allow a six-month extension to the ban because “this has…turned into a huge opportunity for the community to share with the city and share with each other their passion on this issue,” said Winn.

An extension of the ban would allow city staff to determine appropriate policy questions for the commissioners and put forth a more coherent presentation of the issue before any larger decisions are made, according to Winn.

“Doing it right is what matters the most to me,” said Mayor Carson Taylor just before voting yes on a six-month extension.

Commissioner I-Ho Pomeroy voted to amend the request to a three-month extension, feeling six months was too long; however, she did not have the support of the rest of the commission.

Multiple Bozeman citizens spoke in defense of adopting the ban including layman Marilyn Brown. She brought forth information suggesting that there are no state laws preventing homeowners from renting out their homes for short stay use in the city of Bozeman.

“Local governments are prohibited from exercising any power that applies to or affects landlords,” said Brown.

Veteran and retired Montana State University professor Robert Black stood to speak about the AirBnB he ran out of his official residence until the ban passed.

“An immediate suspension of these requirements should be made and announced … in light of people like me who depend on income from AirBnB or homestay to pay city taxes,” said Black.

At the commission meeting, Bozeman residents also requested sanctuary city designation. Dasha Brill, litigation attorney and community advocate, spoke to debunk some myths of sanctuary cities and explain how it could help the city of Bozeman.

“In sanctuary cities, the city commits to serving all citizens without regard to their immigration status,” said Brill. Sanctuary cities do not conceal or harbor undocumented immigrants from detection.

According to Brill, sanctuary cities have lower crime rates, poverty rates, and unemployment rates, and have a higher community engagement and county performance. Rural communities with smaller populations have been the most receptive to these changes.

Bozeman citizens who spoke at the meeting feel immigration is a key proponent to a healthy community.

The following issues were also addressed in front of the Bozeman commission:

  • City residents requested funding for HAVEN, a victims of domestic violence advocacy group. Their primary argument presented domestic violence as a community issue.
  • Brian Sprenger gave an annual update on Bozeman International Airport. In 2018 the airport plans to build a parking garage, a car rental business, and expand the concourse.

– edited by Samantha Sundly

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