Short-Term Rentals Currently Operating with No Oversight

Short-term rentals in Everett are presently unregulated since the former City Council failed to pass an ordinance by the end of last year that would put short-term rental legislation into effect. This is good news for residents who operate Airbnbs, and potentially bad news for their neighbors.

City Clerk Sergio Cornelio had worked tirelessly with his staff and the office of the City Solicitor for most of 2019 to hammer down enforceable laws regarding short-term rentals in the City of Everett. He had drafted an ordinance establishing zoning for short-term rentals and a general ordinance laying out requirements that all rental operators had to comply with.

Council passed the general ordinance and seemed to be well on its way to passing the zoning ordinance, only to reject it at its meeting on Dec. 9. Without the zoning ordinance, the general ordinance is unenforceable. Councilor At-Large John Hanlon was the single vote that sabotaged the short-term rental efforts, and by then it was too late to reintroduce it prior to the end of the session. Old business that is not finalized by the end of the calendar year during a Council change has to be scrapped and reintroduced in the new session.

City Clerk Cornelio had admonished Council that its decision would mean that Airbnbs would be operating without oversight for the foreseeable future.

It is now up to the new Council or the administration to reintroduce the zoning ordinance, which it could do as early as its next meeting on Monday, Jan. 27. It would then have to pass through several stages in order to become law, a process that the clerk had said could take up to four months.

“We already did that in 2019,” the clerk told Independent. “We were trying to pass it without having to do that [again] but that’s not what happened.”

The need for short-term rental legislation first came about when residents complained to Council that their neighbors were operating unsupervised rentals with guests blocking driveway access and throwing rowdy parties. In many cases, the owners of these properties were not Everett residents and did not care if their rentals drew noise complaints or fell into disrepair. The general ordinance addressed these issues, mandating that owners live at the property year-round.

Paul Spring, of 193 Nichols St., was one of the residents who had complained to Council about an Airbnb operated by their neighbor at 191 Nichols St. Spring and his wife had laid out their concerns, describing that the rental is regularly the site of loud house parties, littering and drug use. Spring told Independent that he was disappointed in Council’s decision not to pass the zoning ordinance.

“We’re afraid that when the good weather comes and there’s nothing in place, our anxiety will go up again with all the parties,” he said. “We’re nervous because the people that own the house still do not live here.”

Spring mentioned that Ward 6 Councilor Michael McLaughlin helped him and his wife to make their concerns known to the Council and continues to assist them in pleading their case.

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