Simplified: The Minnehaha Planning Commission is looking to propose a clearer definition – and tighter regulations – for Airbnbs and other short-term vacation rentals in the county. Here's what an early draft would mean for local rentals.

Why it matters

  • Planning Commissioners this week saw an early draft of an ordinance that would place stricter regulations on short-term vacation rentals such as Airbnb or VRBO.
  • It's an early draft, but it's an effort to separate the definition and rules for short-term rentals from the existing definition of a bed and breakfast – a topic that's come up quite a bit at recent county meetings after the planning commission denied a conditional use permit for a bed and breakfast near Wall Lake that owners had hoped to use as a short-term rental.
  • Short-term rental owners say some of the regulations are "excessive," particularly a requirement that the properties have a minimum of one parking space available per guest.
"Even in my own residence or for hotel rooms you don’t have that minimum requirement," said Albert Huizing, co-owner of short-term rental management company SoDak Stays.

If this ordinance passed, what would change for short-term rentals?

It would create a separate definition in county ordinance of a short-term vacation rental.

  • It would also create a separate conditional use permit specific to Airbnb-type rentals. That permit would have its own set of requirements.

What would the requirements be?

Here's a breakdown (also, side note, the county ordinance is using the term "vacation rental" to describe these short-term rental properties):

  • Vacation rentals can't have more than two guests per bedroom.
  • Minimum parking requirements are one space per guest. (So, if you've got an Airbnb that sleeps 12, you need 12 parking spots minimum.)
  • The property has to be registered with the state as a vacation home.
  • The vacation home has to be reviewed by the Planning Commission and County Commission every two years.
  • That review will cost vacation rental owners $500.

It's worth noting, this is just a first draft presented to the Planning Commission by County Planning Director Scott Anderson.

Commissioner Becky Randall noted that a maximum of two people per bedroom might limit some vacation rentals that have a room with two sets of bunk beds, for example.

  • She also said the parking requirement seemed like a lot.
"I think there’s a way to limit it so all of a sudden we don't have 12 cars – but to allow a little bit of flexibility," Randall said.

What happens next?

The Planning Commission will have at least one more discussion on the draft ordinance before it goes to a public hearing.

  • That discussion will likely happen in January with a formal hearing to follow in February.