Airbnb bill passes house and senate, awaits governor signature

Tjefferson@vagazette.com

Localities will not have to change their zoning ordinances to accommodate Airbnb thanks to legislation introduced by Sen. Thomas Norment, R-Williamsburg, to the General Assembly.

Airbnb is an online marketplace that enables people to list or rent short-term housing for vacation.

Norment's State Bill 1578 authorizes a locality to adopt an ordinance requiring the registration of persons offering property for short-term rental.

The bill defines "short-term rental" as a room or space suitable for sleeping or lodging for less than 30 consecutive days.

The bill passed both the house and senate on March 7 and awaits action from the governor.

"Essentially, this action establishes that short term rental uses like Airbnb are not exempt from local zoning. Williamsburg has spent years maintaining a zoning code that adequately protects personal property rights and quality of life. To allow one particular use to be exempt from these controls erodes this delicate balance and creates inequitable market conditions for like business activity," said Williamsburg city manager, Marvin Collins in a statement.

Currently there are more than 300 listings on Airbnb for the Williamsburg area.

"The important part of the bill for localities is that we retain our zoning right," said James City County attorney, Adam Kinsman. "We will have the option to install a rental registry."

Kinsman said it would be up to the Board of Supervisors to propose a zoning change to add a rental registry.

The City of Williamsburg said it will monitor the governor's decision.

"Staff will provide an update to the City Council after the final action has been taken and recommend to City Council any action required to implement the legislation following a legal review," Collins said in a statement.

Jefferson can be reached by phone at 757-790-9313.

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