Earlier this summer, DC Council Chair Phil Mendelson filed a zoning application to nudge the Zoning Commission — and the Office of Planning (OP) — to codify short-term rentals in DC as by-right in residential zones. Now, the planning agency is offering recommendations on how zoning should address short-term rentals, including a hint at some changes which should be on the table in the future.
The OP report encourages the Zoning Commission to amend the zoning text to permit short-term rentals in residential zones, first by adding a definition for Short-Term Rentals to the zoning code. This definition would mirror the one in the recently-passed Short-term Rental Regulation and Affordable Housing Protection Act, while linking directly to the DC Code to ensure usage of those rentals is compliant with the law.
Part of the implied rationale for linking to the DC Code is to be flexible should two restrictions within the soon-to-be-enacted law be relaxed: the requirement that short-term rentals are in primary residences, and the 90 maximum days-per-year when the host is off the premises.
The OP report goes on to say that “an allowance for one additional premise to be eligible as a short-term rental would not be unreasonably permissive”, and cites the annual maximum days (or lack thereof) for short-term rentals implemented by other jurisdictions both locally and nationwide. “These and other requirements of the short-term rental law create novel regulatory requirements around both land use and licensing, which will be difficult for the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs to administer and enforce,” the report concludes.
The Short-Term Rental Regulation Act is scheduled to take effect October 1st, while the zoning hearing is scheduled for October 17th.