Clarinda City Hall

(Clarinda) — The Clarinda City Council has given its permission for a house to be operated as a short-term vacation rental property.

Meeting in regular session Wednesday, the council approved a conditional use permit to operate an Airbnb at 208 West Garfield Street for Tammy and Jan-Peter Schaapherder. Airbnb is an online platform that allows homeowners to rent their property or individual rooms to vacationers on a short-term basis. City Manager Gary McClarnon says that an Airbnb is treated like a bed and breakfast and pays hotel/motel tax under city ordinances.

"According to our zoning code, that does require a conditional use permit, which has to be recommended by the Planning and Zoning Commission," said McClarnon.  "So we did go and get Planning and Zoning together and held a public hearing and had absolutely no comments.  Planning and Zoning did vote unanimously to recommend to the council to approve the conditional use permit to have an AirBnB at 208 West Garfield."

The permit was approved by a 4-to-1 vote. Councilman Matt Ridge cast the lone dissenting vote, saying he has concerns with the unlimited nature of the permit. He cited Des Moines City Code, which requires vacation rentals to apply for a new permit every five years and requires certain setbacks from neighbors. Ridge says he is concerned for neighbors if tenants cause a nuisance.

"I was a little bit divided on issues with neighbors that some have had previously, as well as neighbors not having expected to have a commercial property run next to them," said Ridge.  "At the same time, I want to give some consideration to it being their property and they can do what they want."

Councilman Jamie Shore voted in favor of the proposal, saying it would be no different than a property owner operating a rental property in a residential neighborhood.

"You could view it as like renters," said Shore.  "If somebody owned a rental property, the neighbors don't have a say in who gets to rent the property.  Of course, these are just short-time people for a week, so if they're terrible, they'll be gone."

In other business, the council held its annual budget workshop and set a public hearing for February 10th at 5 p.m. for its proposed property tax levy.

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