NORTH ADAMS — After more than a year of discussions and debates, new city rules have been finalized for short-term rentals, like Airbnbs.
On Tuesday night, the City Council took second and final votes on a pair of short-term rental ordinances.
Among other provisions, they require short-term rentals to get registered with the city and to be inspected. They spell out which zones of the city will allow certain types of rentals “by right,” and where a special permit would be needed, and they require someone in the area to be responsible for the rental. There are 108 short-term rentals in the city that are registered with the state.
Both ordinances were passed by 7-2 with Councilors Marie Harpin and Jennifer Barbeau dissenting. The same councilors voted against the rules in the initial vote earlier this month — Harpin said it was because she felt they were confusing, and Barbeau said she thought they should go back before the Planning Board and that she didn’t get a copy of the city solicitor’s review of the rules.
The newly-approved ordinances date back to early last year. Safety has been a key issue cited as motivation for the rules — apartments in the city have to be inspected, while short-term rentals do not. And while the state registry lists what streets rentals are on, the city doesn’t have additional information about where they are located. The ordinances also seek to fix a zoning issue. Though there are more than 100 of the rentals in North Adams, technically zoning in the city didn’t allow for short-term rentals.
There were multiple public hearings on the rules, and both the City Council and Planning Board have discussed them.
It does not likely mean the end of city ordinances on short-term rentals, a topic other Berkshire communities have also been talking about regulating. Throughout the year-long process, North Adams councilors have said the rules are a start and may later need to be tweaked.
Though the ordinances were finalized Tuesday night, all the rules can’t immediately be enforced. City staff will have to set fees for the rental inspections and the rates will need council approval, Councilor Keith Bona said in mid-February.