Air Bed & Breakfast (AirBNB) is offering homeowners a means of making money, but how the business could alter the neighborhood has some Warwick Neck residents concerned.
What’s more, City Planner William DePasquale fears the proliferation of AirBNBs could “erode” the hotel business that the city that contributes significantly to city tax revenues and is a major employer. DePasquale said yesterday, “maybe we have to license them…require bonding…place limits on the number of people and units.”
While city zoning references bed and breakfast operations, DePasquale believes their operators take “stewardship” whereas AirBNBs are more like hotels. He thinks there should be some performance standards that would address such issues as parking, trash, hours of operation and number of units in a single residence.
“We need to revisit the zoning ordinance,” he said Monday.
Triggering discussion of AirBNBs are two requests to be heard by the Zoning Board tonight.
A petition being circulated in Warwick Neck in opposition to request for a special use permit to operate a three-unit AirBNB from 70 Kirby Ave. has the signatures of 27 homeowners in the immediate area. A second request for a two-unit rental at 38 Ogden Ave. in Highland Beach is also meeting opposition. The two requests are on the city zoning board docket tonight at Warwick City Hall.
The city’s Planning Department has issues with both requests.
Warwick Neck Improvement Association president Ann Gooding, who at one time lived next to the Kirby Avenue house and is now living on Narragansett Bay Avenue, believes AirBNBs could transform the neighborhood, bringing in groups of people who have no regard for the people living there. She points out with Warwick Country Club, the Aldrich Mansion and Harborlights, the neck has three popular wedding venues. She imagines the AirBNBs as becoming guest houses for such events attracting groups of people who might chose to walk through the neighborhood to and from wedding receptions
In a review of petitions coming before the board tonight, DePasquale writes, “Whether it’s noise, visitors that cannot be accommodated by onsite parking, traffic, hours of use, overnight disturbances, trash and party houses, once a house is turned over to an unknown transient, short-term renter the home no longer contributes to the community neighborhood and may present a public nuisance to it neighbors and children, thus compromising the character of the residentially-zoned area. We believe the instant proposal presents such a risk.”
He goes on to say the city’s Comprehensive Plan “is very robust” on the community desire to protect the integrity of neighborhoods. He writes the plan requires the balance of preserving neighborhoods’ quality of life and building the city’s competitiveness.
“The key to achieving that balance is allocation of land uses to appropriate areas of the City,” he writes.
Further, DePasquale notes that the city’s 17 hotels contribute $44,714 and month and $521,594 annually as the state’s 5 percent Hotel Tax Allocation to Municipalities not including property taxes. He reasons bed and breakfast uses must provide total land use compatibility with the Comprehensive Plan.
“If not, it essentially is a motel operating in residential zones, which erodes the fiscal assets the hotel industry provides to the city while also degrading the character of a residential neighborhood.
Recommended denial of the Kirby Avenue AirBNB is based on insufficient parking, the use is not consistent with the general character of the surrounding area and the petition is not consistent with the intent or purpose of the zoning ordinance and Comprehensive Plan.
Similar reasons are named for the recommended denial of the Ogden Avenue petition for a special use. In addition, it is noted there are outstanding violations on the property from the building inspector.