AirBnB (copy)

STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World file

The latest proposal to regulate Tulsa’s Airbnbs and other short-term rentals calls for a city employee to be on call 24-7 to respond to complaints and concerns, a city councilor said last week.

“We’ll have the capacity at any time to reach out and say, ‘Hey, we’ve got a violation. These people are not within the proper parameters,’ and (for it) to be addressed right away,” said Councilor Cass Fahler.

The new employee would be part of the city’s Working In Neighborhoods department, Fahler said. The position would be funded from licensing fees paid by short-term rental operators.

Fahler said that unlike a complaint about a pothole, which can sometimes take days to address, calls dealing with short-term rentals will be handled quickly.

“It won’t be anything like that,” he said. “It will be a lot more responsive and proactive.”

The WIN employee would also serve as a liaison between short-term rental operators and the city.

City officials have been working to establish short-term rental regulations for more than two years.

The Planning Commission recommended in April that owners of properties used solely as Airbnbs or other short-term rentals be required to go before the city’s Board of Adjustment for a special exception to the zoning code.

Property owners who occupy the short-term rental, or rent an accessory dwelling, would not be required to get BOA approval.

A City Council task force made up of Fahler and fellow Councilors Kara Joy McKee and Ben Kimbro has been working for nearly a year to come up with an ordinance that could be considered by the entire council.

McKee said last week that task force members could not come to an agreement on whether BOA approval should be required as proposed by the Planning Commission.

“So we’re bringing that part of it to the full council,” McKee said. “We’ll bring the whole thing to the full council, but that (issue) is the crux right there.”

McKee has heard from several people concerned that a proliferation of short-term rentals would result in even fewer affordable housing units.

“But after discussions with our housing director, we feel confident that Tulsa is not in the position where short-term rentals are going to have a negative impact on long-term rentals,” she said. “There are other things that are inhibiting us from having enough long-term rental coverage.”

McKee said she has not yet decided whether to support requiring certain short-term rental operators to go before the city’s Board of Adjustment.

Fahler made it clear he does not favor the additional step.

“I think we should legislate the proper parameters so it doesn’t require somebody to have to go before a board (and) potentially have a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ based upon the temperatures and attitudes of that day,” he said.

Kimbro described the proposed BOA requirement “unnecessarily burdensome.”

The City Council is expected to take up the short-term rental ordinance later this month or early March.

Gallery: Some of the most popular AirbnB stays in Tulsa by reviews


Kevin Canfield 918-645-5452

Twitter: @aWorldofKC

Staff Writer

Kevin Canfield has covered local government in Tulsa for nearly two decades. He also has reported on downtown development, zoning and community planning.

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