Council seeks revisions for STR kitchen amendment, clarification for ADUs

ON THE BACK BURNER: An amendment that would allow STR kitchens to contain refrigerators and kitchen sinks but not stoves was sent back to committee for revisions and clarifications surrounding renting accessory dwelling units short-term.

Members of City Council concluded on Aug. 27 that a revision to Asheville’s ordinance regulating homestay short-term rentals wasn’t fully baked and sent it back for more time in the oven. In a 5-2 vote, with Council members Vijay Kapoor and Keith Young dissenting, the officials asked city staff to clarify the relationship between a proposed change in the city’s definition of a kitchen and the use of accessory dwelling units as homestays.

The awkward-sounding term “accessory dwelling unit” encompasses residences that are secondary to a main home including garage apartments, mother-in-law suites, basement apartments and standalone structures like cottages. In June 2016, Asheville City Council loosened restrictions on ADUs in an effort to increase long-term housing stock in the city. That same year, Council voted against allowing ADUs to be used for short-term rentals, including homestays. 

Despite that decision, Zoning Administrator Shannon Tuch said that some homeowners modify ADUs by removing distinguishing features, such as kitchen sinks and full-sized refrigerators to comply with homestay regulations. The proposed amendment would have continued to forbid stoves in homestay dwellings but allow sinks and refrigerators. Other changes bundled with the kitchen rule would stipulate that homestay operators must be at least 18 and remove the requirement for operators to provide proof of residency unless “deemed necessary” by city staff. 

The new regulation would not affect whole-home STRs, which remain banned (with some exceptions) within Asheville city limits. According to Tuch, the amendment also would not impact laws surrounding ADUs but would make it easier for homestay operators to comply with city rules and also provide them with greater flexibility in the use of their property. 

“I mean, right now, today, people are converting accessory dwelling units into homestays, detached and attached,” Tuch said. “What this proposed change does is that it makes it easier, because now we’ve simplified what constitutes a kitchen, and so you just remove a stove, whereas before they had to dismantle more than just the stove.”

Tuch also echoed the findings of a staff report by saying that the change would likely result in more ADUs becoming available to rent short-term within the city limits. The change could allow  residents to use extra space for short- or long-term rental, depending on changing circumstances, Tuch said. 

Vice Mayor Gwen Wisler said that while she supported updating the kitchen definition, more clarification is needed to ensure that detached ADUs are not converted for short-term use.

“I have to say, I realize I am on the PED committee, but I had not focused on that this is going to allow detached accessory dwelling units to more easily be converted to homestays,” Wisler said. “Could we amend this to include a standard that prohibits a detached structure from becoming a homestay? If we can’t amend that, then I’m not going to be able to vote for it.”

“We loosened up the regulations around the construction of accessory dwelling units to make infill dwelling units easier to build in the city, because it is a solution that cities across the nation are looking at as a way to alleviate the pressure on the long-term rental market,” added Mayor Esther Manheimer

“I’d like to see us go back to the purity of the homestay definition which is in your home. Whether you’re a long-term renter or a homeowner, you can rent up to two bedrooms in your home,” Manheimer continued.

Homestay Network organizer Jackson Tierney collaborated with city staff and online short-term rental platforms to develop the proposed kitchen change, Manheimer noted. She maintained that loosening restrictions on the kinds of units that can be offered to short-term visitors would counter the city’s efforts to provide housing for permanent residents. 

Citing reports that Asheville has either the highest or second-highest proportion of short-term rentals to units of permanent housing stock of any city in the country, as well as efforts by Airbnb and others to advocate for new state laws that would prohibit North Carolina cities from regulating short-term rentals, Manheimer said efforts to minimize the negative effects of the vacation rental boom should continue.

“You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube, you can’t put the genie back in the bottle,” she said. “I’m very glad we’ve moved to quickly get on top of this issue when we did. I think we would be in a much worse situation now if we didn’t.”

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8 thoughts on “Council seeks revisions for STR kitchen amendment, clarification for ADUs

  1. Jason

    Never ever in my life would i have imagined in the “freest nation on earth “ would government dictate what i could do with my own property….
    it is absolutely disgusting listening to these clowns split hairs; all in the name of substantiating there need to exist…

    • Buncy

      So you believe you’re entitled to a hogpen, guinea fowl and turkey farm, stable of buffaloes, timber wolf-breeding facility, massage parlor, pit vipers & elapids serpentarium, big cat zoo, or outdoor pistol and rifle range on your two-acre lot on Montford Avenue?

      • Lulz

        LOL but the hotel industry isn’t entitled to their RAD redevelopment and huge strain on infrastructure that they pay nothing for, Biltmore isn’t entitled to not paying their fair share, and the BCTDA isn’t entitled to misuse their room taxes for their own personal gain,. LOL big progressive loons who are nothing more than lackeys for the crony corporate/government corruption that the USA is rapidly shown to be. But I’m sure you’ll do what the other leftist liars do and just blame Raleigh. After all, a good LIEberal would never ever see that they are the reason that the middle class is dying. Say, are the rich paying their fair share around here? Of course not.

        • M. Meadows

          The rich need another tax cut. Trickle down and whatnot, etc., etc., etc. HaHaHa!

    • AboveTheCut

      The city of Asheville has a 21 Chapter + Multiple Appendices “Code of Ordinances” that dictate what you can and can’t do with your own property. Buncombe County’s MuniCode is similarly sized. And, that doesn’t include the building codes. Live on a steep slope above 2500′ and want to paint your house white? Sorry, can’t do it. Your toilet cracked and you need to replace it? Pay $100 for a permit and inspection. Want a driveway wider than 14′? Nope not allowed. If anyone is under the false impression they live in the “freest nation on earth” and can do what they want with their own property … take a gander at https://library.municode.com/nc/asheville/codes/code_of_ordinances .

      • Lulz

        Free? LOL this nation with its laws and cronies is the evil empire. Defend it? What for? You have to be a scammer, scumbag, theif, liar, or crook to succeed. Those that play by the rules get screwed. Period. Rules are for suckers.

        • M. Meadows

          HaHaHa
          Thanks for explaining why POTUS is successful in the GOP’s eyes. Please keep melting down…it is highly entertaining.

  2. Red Buffalo

    The mayor and several city council members played dumb when the rule changed in January 2018, a rule change that Shannon Tuch lied about to City Council. She indicated that the changes would not impact Homestays, and they clearly have. She was asked three times at the meeting. Further, the city’s ineptness to get this definition fixed in a timely fashion is beyond ridiculous. Kudos to Kapoor and Young for trying to move this along. Shame on you Mannheimer, Wisler and Mayfield – career politicians of little use – you use this as a political playing piece to show how you care about housing. If you cared about housing, you’d have better plans in place, of which you have no original ideas and no relationships to get things done because you run off developers and good projects that will improve housing. Fools.

    I run a homestay and my unit will NEVER be offered as housing. Change the kitchen definition, which as proposed was fair. This should be completed in the next council meeting. We deserve better government.

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