Like many communities, Penticton is examining how to integrate short-term vacation rentals. (File photo)

Mayor says no decision made on vacation rentals

Short-stay vacation rentals coming back to Penticton council

Mayor Andrew Jakubeit said city council still hasn’t made a decision on how to move forward short-stay vacation rentals.

Last week, Penticton city council voted not to endorse staff recommendations that could have seen short-stay rentals capped or limited to a certain area.

Related: City wants more compliance with short-term rentals

The staff report, authored by building and permitting manager Ken Kunka, also suggested contracting with an outside company able to track listings on Airbnb, VRBO and about 50 similar platforms.

Airbnb, one of the most popular sites for listing short-term vacation rentals, shows over 500 listings in the Penticton area.

An initial survey showed 334 separate listings for Penticton, 204 more than the 130 that have complied with Penticton’s licensing program.

“We still haven’t made a decision on it. We had some concerns, we weren’t comfortable with the way it was presented to endorse just yet,” said Jakubeit. “Perhaps with some extra time and more information coming forward we will be in a better position to make a decision.”

Council asked staff to come back with another report, but Jakubeit wasn’t sure whether that would happen at the April 3 or 17 meeting.

“It has the potential of being a problem, that is part of the rationale behind licensing it,” said Jakubeit, noting that as part of the licensing program, the city brought in penalties last year.

Related: New regulations for short-term rentals

A non-compliant short-stay rental could face fines of up to $500 per day.

“People will comply or, if they are vacation rentals or they are problematic in that every second rental is noisy in the neighbourhood, then that property owner will have to consider selling it or changing it to long-term rental because his investment is being compromised because the city is fining him for non-compliance,” said Jakubeit.

In some cases, Jakubeit argued, the short-term rentals might be a secondary suite rented out to students over the fall-winter season, then switched to vacation rentals in the summer, when students have left.

A search on Airbnb turned up 582 separate listings (some may be duplicates). Of the first 36 listings, 16 were described as entire houses or cabins, 14 as entire apartments and six as suites or lofts.

Jakubeit said there are some limitations on what the city can do in terms of dictating what a resident can or can’t do on their property, and the city is still trying to work out that balance. Zoning, which traditionally regulates the uses a property can be put to, may play a part in that, he admitted.

“That might be coming to fruition with our update to our official community plan and maybe we do have more of a conversation over this,” said Jakubeit. “It’s (short-stay rentals) becoming more popular; in some areas, it exists and it has minimal impact, in other areas it is a significant impact.

“It’s been part of an underground economy for years, but not with a platform like Airbnb and others, it has grown in popularity and is an entity on its own.”

Steve Kidd
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
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