Juneau Assembly moves government regs in on short-term rentals

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Short-term rental unit owners in Juneau are now having to share landlord duties with the tax man.

Despite criticism from residents and small business owners, the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly passed an ordinance Monday requiring short-term rental operators to register their rentals with the city. The ordinance was approved unanimously and will take effect in October. There are penalties for those who don’t comply.

It’s the first step toward what is likely to be more regulations limiting the number of short-term rentals such as Airbnbs or VRBOs allowed in Juneau, and it may ultimately impact those those who have rentals for seasonal workers.

Bankrate.com says that short-term rentals are great ways for retirees to stay active and make a side income to supplement their Social Security and retirement savings.

“Hosting an Airbnb can be a great way for retirees to generate income after they stop working. According to an Airbnb survey, the typical host in the U.S. earned over $13,800 in 2021,” the website says.

Assemblywoman Michelle Bonnet Hale said that the Assembly can’t regulate the short-term rentals until it knows how many there are.

Concerns have been raised about potential government overreach and the impact on small businesses.

The ordinance has been opposed by many in the community, which led to a temporary delay of the decision last month.

Under the new law, operators of short-term rentals must provide the city with a description of their rental units, including address, type of property, number of bedrooms and baths.They also must show proof of having a business license. Those who don’t are mow subject to a fine of $25 per violation.

The Assembly’s solution for creating more affordable housing in Juneau is to try to crack down on one type of housing — short term rentals, which are mom-and-pop businesses often run by retirees — rather than to open up more land for residential.

Juneau has a population of 31,685 according to the U.S. Census. In 1973, the population was 16,000, and by 2000, the population was 30,668.

However, since 2020, Juneau has lost 1.8% of its population, the Census Bureau says.

While the population is not growing, it’s changing. Just 6,654 Juneau residents are under the age of 18. Three years ago, the Juneau School District had 4,600 students, but in 2022 the district saw only 4,355 students in its 15 schools.

Older Juneauites now make up a larger percentage of the population. In 2014, there were 3,398 people living in Juneau who were 65 years or older. Today, there are 4,435 seniors over the age of 65. Many of the people who operate short-term rentals in Juneau are retirees or stay-home parents who are trying to make a living in the expensive capital city.

52 COMMENTS

  1. I wonder if the Assembly members have considered that retired folks are forced to operate a seasonal B & B in their home just to pay those hefty CBJ property taxes?

      • Like babies. They would say they are doing Gods work, if they believed in God.

        When you are so righteous, so far above the serfs, you just don’t care.

    • Seems to me the ASSembly is already getting plenty of plunder (er, revenue?) from said property taxes.
      But NEVER underestimate the pols’ desire to double, triple, even quadruple, dip into your pocket.

    • Maybe the city is trying to figure out the logistics of housing the “new” IRS agents the Biden Klan is hiring.
      There cant be enough “qualified” residents to fill those important positions.
      How will “The Big Guy” get his 10% of the fat if they dont get a handle on the citizens operating under the radar.

    • Government is a growth industry: all the politicians and bureaucrats never get their fill of themselves and are always at working to convince the commoners that they–the plebeians–would be all the more poorer if it weren’t for them! The retired folk can just take up their belt a notch or two and go without lunch or dinner two or three times a week if need be just to get by: it’s all for the greater good–for the betterment of society!

      Oosik, somebody has to cough up the loot! And as the man said with the shake his jowls, “Pass the gravy.” Remember, we’re all in this together, so watch out for yourself!

      • Edit: “[T]he politicians and bureaucrats never get their fill of themselves and are always working to convince the commoners….”

        • The Assembly members owe allegiance to private property rights and values to defend them and secure them. If they owe allegiance to a foreign interest ideas instead then they need to be removed and someone who has fellow feeling for your property rights and rights to make wealth from using your property rights and retention of your wealth should hired in their place by the public to secure and defend these rights. If the servants abhor your right to contract and make wealth they will argue against your rights. Incorrigible.

      • You have that dang straight-the only way Juneau shows growth is with FTE’s. Citizens are leaving Juneau in droves. Got to squeeze the lemon one more time to pay for it all. Plus the new digs the muni is advertising for after a vote to decline. Everybody too busy wondering if they should power wash mold off the roof, paint the house or go for a hike – on 5 nice days called summer.

  2. Well they are just getting what they want. More government control over their every day life’s. You voted for it now pay up.

  3. Air BnB’s drive up the cost of housing resulting in shoving low income marginal workers into homelessness. The most effective cure to bring housing equilibrium is to raise taxes on air bnb’s and subsidize low income housing with the receipts. Regulations make government pick winners and losers

    • Frank, I doubt that Air BnB’s have much to do with driving up the cost of housing in Juneau. The driver in that market is a lack of privately owned property and overly zealous zoning and building restrictions placed upon developers and would be home owners.

      What Juneau needs to do is develop something similar to North Douglas highway backing the ’50s and 60’s. Punch in a road, and sell Government owned land along either side to folks for housing.

      There, fixed the problem. Less Government and more freedom for individuals. Works every time Frank. Makes every one a winner.

      • I have seen the rise of AirBnB take once rental units off the market. So IMO it is having an impact. Reasonable discussion on how much, but it does have some.

        I totally agree a large segment of the solution is opening up more of Douglas. I’m also an advocate of extending the road to Berners Bay, minimally. To Skagway is better still.

        I’ve often wondered why the local tourism vendors don’t get together and build a version of the Mendenhall Towers to house seasonal workers. It would be another step in a positive direction.

        But sadly CBJ is not forward thinking.

        • MA, The problem with Land in Juneau is, it’s in the wrong hands! Disburse land to the public and let individuals live their Alaska Dream. It is unfortunate that the Dirty Dozen of Juneau’s yesteryear have been replaced by an even more virulent curse upon it’s residents, the NIBMY’s.

          BTW, my residency in Juneau started during Walter J. Hickel’s first term, (1967). I was employed in the Juneau Building Industry for decades and supervised construction of many Homes and Public Structures.

  4. eventually the communists or the democrats go after one another when they running out of peoples to take wealth from. The new affected ones now finally are seeing the fruit of their votes and are more likely the voters who voted for Juneau’s leadership.

      • I rely upon Bouviers Law Dictionery. It’s the one the founders used. Treason is a crime committed in the public betraying an oath on file to defend and secure the publics’ US Constitutional rights. It is betrayal, treachery, or breach of allegiance. These servants in the public are there to receive a stipend to secure property RIGHTS and the absolute RIGHT to contract labor. Inventing authorities one doesn’t have is a public crime against the public. The mere fact it is done regularly in Alaska as a popular custom doesnt mean it is not breaking the rights of Alaska’s free men. Constitutional rights are on a higher plane than statutes, corporate bylaws, regulations, or ordinances. Subscripting rights is not securing them and defending them. You object to defense of the US Constitution. Many proudly do.

        • So you read it, it didn’t match your reality, and you created your own.

          May I suggest a long vacation in API? You clearly need it.

          • Your credentials? You are not licensed to medically diagnose anyone in Alaska. I read Bouviers word for word. Treason involves treachery, betrayal and breach of allegiance (to our rights). In military applications there is also giving aid and comfort to the enemy and burden of proof is different and the penalty is death. There is an oath that binds the public servant to secure and defend rights of inhabitants and freemen. Rights improperly “taken” REQUIRES financial remedy from the perpetrator in order for justice to occur. Since Alaska has omitted having a Constitutional sheriff there are more instances of “abridgements of…the people by gradual…encroachments of those in (hopefully temporary) power.

  5. But the assembly members also need and must have a new city hall.
    The taxpayers cant possibly expect their leaders conduct the all important business decisions of steering their great city into the (declining) future without a brand new clubhouse full of brand new furniture.
    Just the thought of it is preposterous!

    Two very important decisions for residents to make in the upcoming elections…new city hall with more new taxes to pay for the new clubhouse or new clubhouse members without “Elitest” taste who are willing to dictate from that disgusting tired old building that could be used as a community center for the homeless?????

    Looks and sounds like an important one.

  6. Juneau’s growth of oldsters is a product of significant isolation, government employment and a very generous State retirement system. As State government grew, starting in the 70s, people found employment and financial security in State jobs. Some of these people did very well, others realized that this was the best deal they were ever going to get and anchored themselves in the community. The isolated setting discouraged out-migration. In turn the political and social climate solidified around people of the Left. Dissent and non-conformity were punished. Despite a long-standing substance abuse culture and oppressive climate it is now effectively impossible for this pampered and supported cohort to live anywhere else. Juneau is not a “normal” environment; the current situation will remain so long as State government remains a big force in the community. Although large, the summer tourist influx is seasonal and masks the long-term demographics. I lived in Juneau for many years. I have no plans to return.

    • It’s much more than what you’ve stated. Correct as it is.

      We have been in decline since the 90s. There are next to no activities for kids outside of movies, substance abuse, and sex.

      The insular nature of Juneau creates a myopic view of the world. There is an active (fortunately ineffective) subset of people who want to turn us into Wrangell.

      The established elite does everything it can to discourage innovation and competition.

      Factor in the constant wrangling with the native corps/Tlingit-Haida over land along with the eco nuts, it’s a mess.

      Finally most of our progressives who are of child rearing age can’t be bothered or don’t want to bring up kids in a dead end town.

      • I did not mention young people in my initial post because it can easily dominate the discussion. That said, you are right. Both of my children were born in Juneau but we left before they started school. After that, we heard horror stories about kids growing up there and very serious problems with dangerous drugs. I am very happy my kids did not have to live through that. And I understand it is no better today.

        The myopic view of the world created by Juneau’s isolation was evident many decades ago.

        If I had remained in Juneau I might well be dead today. Isolation is a form of incarceration. I have seen and done so much since breaking out. I hope that something happens to change things in Juneau. It may not happen soon.

        You are a brave soul for remaining. I support you.

        • I love this place in spite of itself. But that has limits.

          I’m getting to the point (due to age) where I’m getting more health care out of state than locally. The faux Junta is actively trying to push people like me out of their wealthy socialist utopia by taxing us coming and going.

          A society without children will fail.
          A society with an overburdened tax base will fail.

          Once my wife retires we will probably leave for good. I hate it, but I’m realistic. This is no country for old people.

          • If you escape to the North, look me up. I will buy you a burger and more. The publisher of this site or Mr. Schenker can provide contact info. Stay strong.

    • JMARK, you nailed it.
      Juneau is dying in part because our children left after struggling to afford decent housing in which to raise their children. I think the School enrollment numbers support that thesis as well.

      • R Schenker, J Mark, Masked Avenger, the three of you have collectively framed a quite accurate picture of how Juneau morphed into its current dystopian status. However, you did not predict the looming, dark, eventuality on Juneau’s horizon. That is, the inevitable housing crash.
        .
        As you all noted, the over-paid and over-benefitted state employees gave insular Juneau the unique status of the highest concentration of millionaires per capita in N America. These elites have been retiring in droves; many acquiring second homes in Arizona, etc. Meanwhile, their children emigrated to mainstream America for reasons you noted. What is left is multitudes of wealthy retirees occupying empty-nest homes. Currently, most are in their 60’s and 70’s. Within another 10-years they will be in their 70’s and 80’s. At that point, they will be saying, “honey, I cant mow this lawn any more; we’ve got to sell and leave for good” This trend will result in thousands of houses coming to market. It will be an unprecedented market crash… maybe of epic magnitude. The only question will be which of these elites will be smart enough to sell before the crash?

  7. This was inevitable.

    While we need to do something about the problem of people withdrawing housing from the rental market for Airbnb’s, this isn’t it.

    This is just flat out fascism with the faux Junta picking winners and losers. While getting a big guy style piece of the action.

  8. There’s a price to pay for that. They must lose their stipends! Resign. Resign in droves. May I go to your door and demand to see your contracted rent receipts? Can I do that? No? Why not? A right to contract. You take it you pay $. Did the US Constitution create a state of privilege for citizens? It did NOT. “”All men are created equal”. If I can’t syruptitiously but with golden tea party manners amble sweetly to your property demanding what i want you to charge for the use or lack of use of it, your property, it’s because I don’t have that authority and neither do you to do that to me regardless if the King of Englands case law. Using a soft lady like voice or a fisherwoman voice notwithstanding. You do not have that authority. Merely believing lies doesn’t make it so so. For instance, THERE IS NO EASTER BUNNY with extra rights. If I can’t do it neither do you have that extra right. Quit! Your stipend.

  9. It is just like Anchorage, when a independent person finds a way to support themselves they find a way to tax or regulate them out of business. Many of us elderly are not considered employable and with the increasing property taxes need a little passive income to make ends meet. Where is the harm in that? Who’s better qualified to share information about our state to these visitors than someone who has spent their lives here. The summer help at the corporate hotel? The B&B is a much liked alternative and encourages the type of tourists who don’t want to be herded about on organized and expensive tours. And they spend a lot of money at locally owned businesses, probably contributing more to our local economy than any other source of tourism. Why the local government wants to impede this is anybody’s guess. Next we will have to register our visiting relatives when they stay at our homes. Or charge them a bed tax. Don’t laugh.

    • These short term rental are not B&B’s, they are rental homes/apartments where the owner is generally not around.

      That has been my experience when renting via AirBNB and VRBO.

      However, as they are short term rentals/vacation rentals, they are operating a business and should pay the bed tax that every other hotel/motel/traditional B&B must pay. They also must pay sales tax in their local jurisdiction as again, they are a business.

      Also, the feds require you to report all income and expenses as a Schedule C business on a 1040 tax return. You are not supposed to use the Schedule E rental reporting as an AirBNB or VRBO is a business and subject to self employment taxes.

      • These bed taxes were pushed by the corporate hotels to “level the field “. Basically eliminate any competition. Their primary income is lodging. Individuals who rent out space in their private homes, long or short term are exercising their property rights in order to make expenses. Yes, if somehow it results in a profit, federal taxes will have to be paid. But who benefits from over regulation of these rentals. It’s like regulating a lemonade stand to make it fair for the restaurants, which we do. Scale of the operation needs to factor into it. Plus, we will lose more tourists if their only option is an 800 dollar a night hotel room.

  10. The Juneau Assembly’s mission is equity and inclusion. Just like the measure they tried to pass wanting to know what you sold your house for. They want to tax any form of income and pass it on to those who don’t work, or in Liberal speak, marginalized. Add to this all the commercial property being bought up by the tribes and non profits taking them off the tax rolls.

  11. Honestly, this liberal regulation is getting way out of hand. We should be turning all these public housing projects into Air BnBs and letting the private sector fix the housing issues we have. No more public funds towards housing when we’ve already shown private options like AirBnB do way better at getting people under roofs and helping fund those who own the roofs as they should. Maybe we ought to make the legislature pay rent for their offices in the capitol to the people. Every time they make a bad decision we don’t like we can jack their rent prices up

  12. AirBNb is a radical leftist organization out of San Fransisco who will cancel anybody who doesn’t comply with their Diversity Equity Inclusion mandates. They will actually take over most of the rental houses in a small tourist town leaving no where for the average worker to live, which forces them to commute long distances from cheaper areas. This is happening all over the country.

    • I am a little lost how this issue has to deal with leftist organizations. It is about trying to make money by skirting the rules, a practice embraced by both the left and the right. I agree with your statement about causing housing shortages in small tourists town. So is David Boyle part of a leftist organization out of San Francisco?

  13. There is a movement across the Country to regulate short term rentals. Local Colorado governments have regulated short term rentals for about 5 years now. I have a short term rental in Colorado and the town started to regulate it 2 years ago. I have to register, pay an annual $325 fee and an annual $50 fire inspection fee. Then I must post the regulations in the house. The government also limits the number of short term rentals and if the current STR is sold, the STR goes away. Govt says this is an effort to “solve the homeless problem”! Juneau will follow suit and follow this STR model which seems to be pushed by very liberal nonprofits.

    • You are in the hotel business. You should have the same regulations and pay the same taxes required of others in the same business. Your customers are using the same services. I have a second home in Colorado near a very conservative town. They recently passed a law regulating short term rentals. I can guarantee very liberal nonprofits had nothing to do with it.

  14. Rental of private apartments and dwellings to visitors instead of local long-term residents and workers has been identified as the number one issue in non-retention of a worker force, both here in Southeast Alaska as well as many other communities across the nation.
    There are many “mom and pop” homes that are trying to take advantage of the short-term-rental (STR) market, and they should have every right to do so. They have every right to conduct business on their property. But the rules for businesses in Juneau state the business owner (who is getting the money for the transaction/service/product they sell) needs to be registered with CBJ and as a STR, they need to be collecting and remitting the appropriate sales tax.
    The tax collected and remitted to CBJ is not the property owner’s money. So any argument that registering their business means they are being nickel-and-dimed or taxed to death is absolutely untrue. The vistor pays the sales tax. And honestly, playing by the rules and adding the sales tax onto the bill, is not going to deter any visitor from accepting a property rental.
    One of the main problem is that these – as some of you call them, “retired” “grandparents” or “mom and pop” (and honestly we don’t know who is doing STR becuase there is no data) – people are not registering with CBJ thereby creating an uneven playing field for those businesses that do register and collect and remit. How do you feel about an honest property owner who is doing STR saying that the other guy who isn’t registered and remitting tax, is cheating? Just suck it up and that’s the American way of life? No, you say, the cheater should abide by the rules.
    There are costly programs out there that CBJ can subscribe to to find these people that are blatently defying the rules. Why are you supporting people that are defying the tax code?? Why would you support making CBJ pay outrageous subscription fees when instead, your neighbors can do the right thing and register?
    Another issue with the increase in short-term-rentals is they are taking away housing from local long-term residents. Across Southeast and other destination communities, studies and reports show that lack of housing is the main reason municipalities, small businesses, and other economic drivers cannot maintain their talent.
    The action by the Juneau Assembly to require is a minor step in ensuring 1) they have a better understanding of the economic environment, 2) they have a better understanding of the participants, geographical spread, and potential impacts on the neighborhoods, and 3) the tax code is being equally administered to all businesses.
    No one is being asked to forfeit their right to do what they want with their property. They are just being asked to comply with the already established business rules that apply to everyone.

    • Kara, I enjoyed reading your essay, however I take exception to the Totalitarian point of view that apparently has wrested control of your reasoning abilities.

      You state as a fact that the Local Governing body has an immediate need and in fact a right of all or a substantial part of any revenue that people residing within their jurisdiction earn through their hard work and enterprise. I disagree.

      You seem to be ok with Governments forcing ordinary citizens to become unpaid Tax Collectors, again I disagree.

      You cite that Air BnB’s and other revenue generators employed by home owners who are struggling to pay their outrageous property tax bills be choke collared and leashed under stricter government oversight wrought with fines and penalties. Ostensibly because this bunch of Air BnB scofflaw’s are to blame for the lack of housing?
      I disagree and find it breathtaking that you cannot fathom that the lack of housing is due to the same Government that you assume needs even more of the peoples wealth to continue it’s march of folly.

      You’re not a Government Employee are you?

  15. It used to be that an allusion to the founding documents, values, and rights would receive an affirmative response in the public square. In the capitol of Alaska NOW the response is “you need a long vacation in a mental institution”. Interesting. The republic appears to be AN unpopular in this protected geographical idyll after only 50 years of statehood.

  16. It’s not much more than a lemonade stand. And in Anchorage, no sales taxes apply but if you are using Airbnb, they collect the appropriate bed taxes from your guests. Nobody is skirting the law. If your premises are not well kept, they will not list you. After dealing with tenants at my guest house for years, I have found that short term rental is much less damaging to my property. Plus they pay in advance and have a ticket out at the end of their stay. If they trash the place, they will be banned. No six month eviction process and having to rebuild the place when they leave. There’s many people who rent a place in the fall and don’t pay rent again. You have to then pay their utilities all winter while they dodge the process server while you pay the utilities and watch them trash your home. The B&B is a much better solution. The military families who are waiting for housing or in the process of purchasing a house need temporary lodging as well. I would not give up my home under any circumstances, but it is nice to have help paying for utilities and property taxes. I am not adding to this dreamed up housing shortage. Just trying to finish life in the home I worked my lifetime for on my pension. Is it not my property if I continue to pay taxes? Or would you rather I join the campers in Anchorage ?

    • By the way, Airbnb did not require me to sign any woke statements. As far as I am concerned, as long as they offer a good service, I could care less if they all drink Budlight at home. We can’t judge all California as representatives of their government, anymore than here.

  17. Juneau needs to grow a spine and tell their city council what they want them to do. The city council works for the people, not the other way around!

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