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Tonight: Woodside considers impact of Airbnb on town

 

Woodside has neither hotels nor motels, but there is Airbnb, which enables residents to advertise and rent out rooms, or entire homes, for short periods.

The Town Council meets tonight (Tuesday, Oct. 11) for a study session to consider the impact of Airbnb and similar outfits on the residential character of the town. The meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. in Independence Hall at 2955 Woodside Road.

Based on an October 2015 snapshot of Woodside from an Airbnb clearinghouse website called Inside Airbnb, the town had 16 listings at an average price of $396 for one night, according to a staff report. Most of the rentals, 68 percent, were for entire houses. The rest were for single rooms, the report says.

The Inside Airbnb website describes the site as "an independent, non-commercial set of tools and data that allows you to explore how Airbnb is really being used in cities around the world." The site provides "filters and key metrics" to allow analysis of how Airbnb "is being used to compete with the residential housing market."

Some questions the council will consider:

• How does the impact of renting out a bedroom in a home with the homeowner present compare with renting out an entire house where there's no on-site supervision?

• If a home, room or cottage is being advertised on Airbnb, what is the effect on long-term rentals and the supply of affordable housing?

• Is there a balance to be struck? The benefits of Airbnb include income for the homeowner and an occupied rather than a vacant house when the owners are away. But what if the tenants are rowdy? What if there are parties that involve buses or vans or caterers?

• How might rules be drawn up to regulate this market and how might they be enforced? Possible regulations: require an owner to be on-site, and limit noise, the number of guests and the length of stay, the report says.

Town Hall has received just four complaints over the past three years, Town Manager Kevin Bryant said in the report. In each case, the complaint was related to the size of the group, he said.

"Short-term vacation rental markets are here to stay," Mr. Bryant says in conclusion. "There are clear benefits to short-term vacation rentals along with clear challenges."

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