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McCall holds meeting to explore potential short-term rental rule changes

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On Monday afternoon, the City of McCall held a meeting about potential rule changes related to short-term rentals. 

The virtual meeting allowed for the public to ask questions about the possible revisions.

As for why McCall is considering changing the regulations, the city cites a shortage of long-term rentals for locals, safety concerns, and impacts on neighbors.

The city also acknowledged the positive impacts of STRs, including additional lodging for people, the economic benefits that come with visitors, a way for residents to make money from their properties, and generating a Local Option Tax. 

Proposed changes

The city looked at 11 other towns similar to McCall and compared short-term rental laws. This and various meetings with staff and officials helped generate a list of suggested changes. 

[Alcohol could return to McCall parks for Fourth of July: council looks for input]

Some of the possible permit changes include requiring a short-term rental permit as opposed to a business license, an annual renewal, moving from property management to requiring permits for each unit, a revised fee schedule, and a new inspection process. 

Potential land use code changes include adding definitions of events, reducing occupancy from four to two per bedroom, changes in health and safety requirements, and no exterior changes that “eliminate the appearance of residential character.”

Two per room

Throughout the meeting there were about 40 plus members of the public in the virtual chat, the majority of them being property owners. During the Q & A period, the two most frequently asked questions, or complaints, centered around the two per bedroom rule change and health and safety issues. 

“The one thing I’m absolutely opposed to is the reduction of people per bedroom from four to two,” STR owner Kelly Hill said. “…it’s not a one size fits all. We are a very unique community.”

Hill, who is on the local housing committee for McCall, says instead of reducing the room occupancy limit, capacity should be determined in the inspection process.

“These homes do need to be inspected,” Hill said. “I mean, there are very unsafe vacation rentals out there….I personally in my rental pool have bedrooms that are 20 by 20. And if we had just one bed in there… one bed for two people doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense.”

Hill continued saying that this rule change could lead to an increase in demand for STRs. 

 “… I have a cousin who visits McCall every year. She has nine children. So there’s 11 people in her family. She rents a house that we have on our rental program that can accommodate 12. That family probably will not be able to visit McCall anymore because it’s going to limit that same house that they were in to six people,” Hill said. “So they can’t even stay in the same house together unless they want to split their family.”

Most property owners in the conversation seemed to believe that this rule change was not a good idea.

After numerous questions, McCall’s Community & Economic Development Director Michelle Groenevelt weighed in on the bedroom limit.

 “We set that number pretty high from four person per bedroom,” she said. “Which is a pretty standard way to regulate these. And then we found in our research that actually we were much higher than all the other communities we looked at, basically, they all have two person per bedroom. So that’s sort of where that came from. But I’m hearing some good suggestions and maybe there’s some other ways to sort of manage occupancy in a different way than per bedroom.”

As for the health and safety issues, Groenevelt talked about potential overcrowding in rooms and houses, homes not having proper smoke detectors, and people being unfamiliar with the structural layout of the house.  

The proposed changes are in the very early stages. According to the timeline, the changes will start their journey in front of planning and zoning and then move to city council with public hearings at each meeting. Then the city will work with Valley County on the process for the McCall Impact Area. The target date for the changes to become effective is January 1, 2023- however, Groenevelt stated the city might need more time. 

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Autum Robertson - BoiseDev Reporter
Autum Robertson - BoiseDev Reporter
Autum Robertson is a BoiseDev reporter focused on Meridian and McCall. Contact her at [email protected].

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