CONYERS — Incidents of violence, noise, damage to property, and traffic congestion at Airbnbs, both in Rockdale County and around the nation, have residents renewing a call for the county to put a moratorium and ban on the short-term rental properties.
Short-term vacation rentals came to the attention of many residents in April when there was a shooting incident at a home being rented through Airbnb Inc. in the Martha’s Vineyard subdivision off Ga. Highway 20. No one was injured, but five people, all from out of town and staying at the home, were arrested following the incident for weapon and drug violations and warrants from other states.
At a Board of Commissioners’ work session at Honey Creek Elementary School in May, more than 80 members of Home Owners For Better Government, a citizen advocacy group in Conyers, turned out to show their support for eight speakers who asked the county to either place a moratorium or complete ban on the rentals until an ordinance can be developed to manage them.
At the June 18 meeting of the BOC, Planning and Zoning Director Kc Krzic stated that her department began looking at short term rentals last year and hope to have ordinances regulating them by the end of the year.
But after a June 13 incident at an Airbnb rental on Lake Haynes Drive where a large party caused noise and traffic complaints resulted in cars being towed and damage to a neighboring property, and unconfirmed reports about shots being fired at another short term rental location June 24, residents were again asking why the county is not doing something now.
At the BOC meeting June 25, two residents spoke about the issue. Don Meyer, the president of HOFBG, said residents are fed up with no action begin taken.
“We don’t want short term rental property,” Meyers said. “We want a moratorium and a ban. Let the rest of the country figure out what to do with them; we don’t want them.
“If this has been worked on for over a year, why are there shootings still going on in this county? What the community is asking for is a moratorium on short term vacation rentals and a ban. That’s what we will accept from our Board of Commissioners at this time. We can do regulations later.”
George Kelecheck, another member of HOFBG, expressed his displeasure at the county’s apparent unwillingness to look at research he did on the issue.
“We are not going to take this anymore,” he said. “We asked for a moratorium and a ban. I gave you 92 pages of research from Host Compliance, LLC, the leader in the industry of short term vacation rental consultation. As far as I know, nobody took the opportunity to read that information.”
Around the nation, concerns over short team rentals are growing. Airbnbwatch.org is a short term rental watchdog group. On June 5 it sent out an email listing seven incidents that took place at Airbnb’s around the nation that ended in gunshots and even a fatality at one location. They included:
• June 1, ABC 10 San Diego: Shots were fired during a fight at a large party hosted in an Airbnb.
• June 2, ABC 7 in West Covina, Cal.: A shooting at a house party left one male dead and three others wounded.
• June 3, News 10 in Albany, NY: A 17—year-old was severely injured after he fell 14 feet from a balcony onto a concrete slab while at a party at an Airbnb.
• June 4, ABC 7 in Chicago: Surveillance videos show shots being fired by two people at each other during a party at an Airbnb. One assailant fired nine shots. Bullets blew out a next-door neighbor’s car window and also shattered windows at a house two doors down.
• May 29, KSHB 41 in Kansas City: Shooting at large party. Several cars had windows shot out and bullets found lodged inside the seat.
• May 29, AZ Family in Tempe, Ariz.: More than 35 people attended a rowdy house party an caused thousands of dollars worth of damage. The Airbnb renter used a fake name and a phone number that has since been disconnected.
• May 24, Newsweek Magazine: Police raised a party for high schoolers at an Airbnb rental in Palm City, Fla. and found a large amount of illegal drugs and alcohol, and also stripper poles had been placed inside.