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City nets 74 applications for short-term rentals

Rountree leads; there’s still a ways to go before all properties are licensed

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The picture of short-term rentals in Springfield is a little clearer.

The city received 74 applications during a 30-day grace period set in the short-term rental property regulations City Council approved Jan. 28, said Springfield Senior Planner Daniel Neal. The grace period for a new density requirement ended Feb. 27.

“We don’t really know what the true number is,” Neal said of short-term rentals in Springfield. “It’s a good start. When we were looking at this, we were thinking there were somewhere around 200.”

Short-term rental website Airbnb currently lists 279 properties in Springfield.

“We’re just going to have to deal with that on a case by case basis,” Neal said of getting all operators to apply for licenses. “There will be an initial grace period regarding enforcement, as we process the initial applications. However, we do expect to take a proactive approach to ensure a level playing field among hosts and businesses participating. The goal in creating these regulations is to balance the desire for entrepreneurism with preserving neighborhood character.”

Of the applications received, 62 are Type 2 rental properties, one of three types recognized by the city. Type 2 properties are rented for periods of less than 30 consecutive days, are located within a residential single family or residential townhouse district, and are not owner-occupied.

The city is still taking applications, though Neal said the density requirement for Type 2 properties is now in effect. The regulation limits one Type 2 rental per eight structures on each side of a single block.

Location, location, location
The highest concentration of short-term rental applications is in the Rountree neighborhood. Neal said there were 12 Type 2 applications in Rountree, followed by four in Phelps Grove.

“Just east of Missouri State University is the highest concentration,” said Neal, who is spearheading the application process at City Hall.

He said the remaining Type 2 properties are spread out in other neighborhoods around MSU and the Mercy campus.

“There’s some Type 3s in the downtown area for lofts and apartments – not a whole lot, but that’ll come,” he added.

Of the seven Type 3 applications received, three were downtown with two each on Commercial Street and near MSU.

According to the new regulations, Type 3 properties can be either owner occupied or nonoccupied in any district with no more than two units per premises with unlimited rental days. Type 1 properties are owner-occupied in residential single family or residential townhouse districts rented no more than 95 days a year. The five Type 1 properties that turned in applications are scattered around town, Neal said.

The neighborhood associations in Phelps Grove and Rountree have differing opinions of the short-term rental market.

“Rountree had mixed feelings,” Neal said. “It’s a resounding ‘no’ from the Phelps Grove Neighborhood Association. It’s interesting seeing the two different perspectives.”

Laurel Bryant, president of the Rountree Neighborhood Association, said short-term rentals haven’t seemed to cause a problem.

“I’ve heard very little pushback, but we don’t encourage party houses,” she said. “I think that short-term rentals have definitely increased in the last several years due to the popularity of our area and proximity to Missouri State University and the hospitals.”

Bryant said the short-term rental owners she’s met in Rountree are dedicated to providing clean housing and being good neighbors.

“I know Phelps Grove is more opposed, but I think they have a higher concentration of students, so they have concerns for the party housing,” she said. “We don’t want such a high concentration that it impacts the diversity of our neighborhood.”

Bryant’s only long-term concern, being a Murney Associates real estate agent, is the possible diminishment of affordable properties for first-time homebuyers as she expects more homes on the market will be gobbled up by short-term rental operators.

Next steps
The Type 1 application is a single-page form, while the Type 2 is 16 pages, including paperwork for neighborhood meetings, posting a sign for the meetings and a consent affidavit from 55 percent of adjacent property owners.

Before submitting applications, Type 2 owners must preapply and upload a digital copy of the application through eCity, the city’s cloud-based platform for filings by contractors, builders and developers, Neal said.

An annual business license and certificate of occupancy are required for Type 2 properties, along with a $350 nonrefundable fee. Fees are not applied to Type 1 and Type 3 applications.

“The next step for Type 2s is going through neighborhood meetings,” Neal said.

The meetings require notice sent at least 10 days prior to each landowner within 500 feet of the Type 2 property and to the neighborhood association president or any other officers on file with the director of Planning and Development.

He said meeting notices have been sent out and city officials are starting to get feedback from the neighborhoods.

If a Type 2 short-term rental application fails to receive the required signatures, the owner can submit a request to the city clerk and Planning and Development Department for City Council review.

Neal said Type 3 properties are starting to get inspected and in the near future will get their licenses. “It’s a work in progress,” he said.

The passage of the regulations validates already operating short-term rentals, which had been doing so illegally for the past few years.

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