New law regulates Springfield bed-and-breakfast sites with focus on being good neighbors (MassLive)


READ THE ORIGINAL STORY FROM MASSLIVE/PETE GOONAN HERE.


SPRINGFIELD — The city adopted a new ordinance that requires the registration and inspection of all bed-and-breakfast rentals, with a focus on ensuring the sites are good neighbors.


The City Council gave unanimous approval to the ordinance after discussions with residents, some owners of the “short-term rentals,” and community organizations, said At-Large Councilor Jesse Lederman, the lead sponsor.


The McKnight Neighborhood Council and Forest Park Civic Association endorsed the ordinance, Lederman said. It governs short-term rentals such as those rented through online booking agents like Airbnb and HomeAway, he said.


“This ordinance serves to protect our neighborhoods from commercialization while providing clear rules for homeowners who wish to utilize their property in this way,” Lederman said in a prepared release. "It is a great example of how the legislative process can be put to work to safeguard neighborhood quality of life.”


Mayor Domenic J. Sarno, praising Lederman, said Friday he has signed the new ordinance “for the protection of quality of life issues for all our neighborhoods so that said properties are run properly and not causing a disruption in our neighborhoods."


Under the ordinance, short-term rentals must be owner-occupied, and must register with the city and receive annual safety inspections.


The rentals must “remain free of code violations, be limited to a number of guests appropriate with the size of the home, notify abutters of the use, and receive approval for a parking plan,” Lederman said, in summarizing some of the highlights of the eight-page ordinance.


The ordinance is scheduled to take effect in nine months, to allow for preparations by the city and operators.


Hourly rentals are prohibited and the council reserved the right to limit the number of short-term rentals granted in the future if there becomes an issue of over-saturation, Lederman said.


Walter Kroll, president of the McKnight Neighborhood Council, praised the new law. saying it provides “well thought out oversight and transparency with clear expectations for residents and operators.”


The ordinance will be enforced by the Code Enforcement office, and violations can result in civil fines.


Lederman was joined in pursuing the ordinance by councilors from wards having the largest number of short-term rentals including Ward 3 Councilor Melvin Edwards, Ward 4 Councilor Malo Brown and Ward 6 Councilor Victor Davila. It was co-sponsored by Councilors Tracye Whitfield and Marcus Williams.


Davila said the ordinance protects neighborhoods from over-saturation and the issues that arise from it, while Edwards said the ordinance provides “sensible regulations.”

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