Public hearing: New short-term rental licensing, fees, and fines proposed for Anchorage

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Should Anchorage put regulatory guardrails, restrictions, fees, and associated fines on short-term rental establishments?

That’s up for public discussion at Tuesday’s Anchorage Assembly meeting, where an ordinance is being considered to license and regulate these mom-and-pop operations that have popped up in recent years.

The problem the Assembly appears to be trying to solve is that, with this new business model, “there is a need to understand this market and ensure proper operation of the STR [short-term rentals] for the enjoyment of the renter and the neighborhoods in which they operate.”

The sponsors, Meg Zaletel and Randy Sulte, say in their proposed ordinance, introduced in October, that “there is a desire to provide additional assurances that STR units meet current applicable provisions of the land use, fire, health and other applicable Anchorage Municipal Codes for the safety of renters and property owners,” and that neighbors are able to still have “peaceful enjoyment” of their homes.

The ordinance establishes a short-term rental license and permitting process, and gives the Municipal Clerk leeway to promulgate regulations. Starting in May, anyone operating a short-term rental would have to have such a license, which would not be transferrable to a new owner of the property. The license would have to be renewed every two years at the Clerk’s Office. Property owners would have to carry at least $500,000 in insurance, or show that their online reservation system or hosting platform (AirBnb) provides the insurance.

License fees are set at $400 per unit, to be paid to the Municipal Clerk. There is no wording in the ordinance that would set a limit on how many short-term rentals can be licensed.

In the Alaska Legislature, Rep. Andrew Gray has a bill that would limit each Alaskan to being able to own just one short-term rental unit. Sen. Forrest Dunbar has a bill to force short-term rental owners to rent to Alaskans.

Current state requirements for short-term rentals can be found at the Department of Commerce.

Other provisions in the ordinance can be found at this link.

The Anchorage Assembly agenda is at this link. Live-streaming of the Assembly meetings, which start at 5 pm at the ground floor meeting room of the Loussac Library, can be found at this link.

46 COMMENTS

  1. This all appears to be a back door into controlling everything everyone does with their own property, so hotels, motels, lodges can get higher occupancy. How about these corrupt servants of the people start doing what they were actually elected to do and stop pandering to their puppet masters.

    We all need to remember their names when we go to the ballot box!

    • You are 100% correct. And postponing the hearing to the holidays, then again to an undetermined date, and finally to a date that is 2 days away, is all an attempt to make sure there is no opposition sitting in that court room.

    • Your comment is very logical. Government should not control what people do with their own property. Anyone should be able to convert the home next to yours into a hotel. Or, even a hardware store, auto body shop, night-club, or even a strip club. I commend you for your foresight.

    • Good for you! We in the Fairbanks area will be praying for your success at getting these “I want to control idiots out of office!” Fairbanks has its own problems, but we aren’t quite as far yet.

  2. What exactly is being referred to here with the phrase “short term rentals”? Are we talking about hotels and motels, or Air BNBs, or just what, precisely?

  3. There is a ton of insanity going on here! Wow! Telling people what they can own and can’t own and who you can do business with sure sounds like globalist control to me!

    • Ginny, this is not insanity. its about land-use laws (zoning). Residential zones are intended to be quiet, peaceful neighborhoods with all properties having similar, compatible occupancies. Motels, on the other hand, are totally incompatible with residential zones. They are meant to be in commercial zones with other businesses with higher activity and traffic Anyone is allowed to open a motel in a commercial zone.

      • Skip on back to Juneau, Skippy. This is nothing more than government reaching into the pocket of the private citizen to further swell the coffers of governement. A money grab under a BS premise. Short term rentals in no way negatively impact a neighborhood anywhere in Anchorage. Your representation is a false example of how short term rentals operate.

  4. I have absolutely no idea why anyone with any modicum of intelligence or logic would desire to reside in Anchorage. None. This brainchild of NutMeg is just another way to get more money out of the end user by creating an issue where the property owner needs to pass this government overreach expense onto them.

  5. Since when have Assembly members given a damn about understanding any market, ensuring proper operation of anything for the enjoyment of anyone except themselves?
    .
    If Zaletel and Sulte are pushing this scheme, best guess is it’s all about stifling any thought of competition with Zaletel’s homeless-industrial complex… in Sulte’s high-rent district.
    .
    Everyone wins: The Meg’s enterprise gets no competition, Sulte preserves his districtict’s Special NIMBY status, Sulte seems to pay off what looks a lot like an IOU for being allowed to win his election, Assembly members rake in more money which’ll disappear faster than Democrats at Trump rallies.
    .
    Well, almost everybody wins. Taxpayers get stiffed again but hey, if they can afford AirBnB’s, mother-in-law apartments, property rentals, they should suck it up and pay their fair share, no?
    .
    Probably a coincidence Peoples State Representative Gray came up with a bill limiting each Alaskan to owning just one short-term rental unit. Seems like an ideal government-business partnership, cornering the market for the Zaletel homeless-industrial complex by stifling competition outside Anchorage also, no?
    .
    Probably a coincidence Peoples Imperial State Senator Dunbar came up with a bill forcing short-term rental owners to rent to Alaskans. Seems like an ideal government-business partnership, cornering the market for the Zaletel homeless-industrial complex… when the term “Alaskans” can and -mark our words- will be, construed to include indigent village castoffs entitled to equitable short-term rental opportunities.
    .
    So, another damned delphi meeting’ll persuade idiot taxpayers that stifling private enterprise, giving more money to government is for their own good?
    .
    And if they’re not persuaded, it’s gonna happen anyway, because Anchorage’s easily corruptible election system is run by the very same person who’s running this protection racket.
    .
    Of course it’s “protection”. We’re just not sure whose.

  6. BS. They need to understand they are overreaching again. When we need them to do anything we’ll be sure to let them know.

  7. Yet another solution in search of a problem, but of course that’s what Leftists specialize in. They have no idea how to solve actual problems.

    • The biggest issue is that many and most Alaskans who are homeless make up a very large amount or the majority that are unrentable, as they have multiple evictions and situation that have caused them to be again and again in an “unrentable state”.
      Private individual, companies and corporations will not rent to these individuals based on their past history, this is the larger problem, come up with solution “My Dear Assembly” programs that will cater to individual who are the majority and make up the larger amount of homelessness in the state.
      Surveys taken will clearly indicate this .
      The municipality should take on the bigger problem of assisting and curbing this large size problem, instead of trying to implement how, when and who should be able to use their private property based on guidelines that have no merit or substance that are up for discussions

  8. Neither the municipal clerk, nor an army of municipal bureaucrats can run my property or my business better than I do. Stay out of my business!

    • Not so, Dee Cee! They are of course the “good people”, and know far more than you what is best for you. Only a reactionary obstructionist and white supremacist insurrectionist would refuse their generous and omnipotent guidance in every minute aspect of life.

  9. In almost any other city in America, the lawsuits -plural- would be flying. In Anchorage, the sheep go meekly to slaughter.

  10. It does not make sense for the Assembly to lower regulations for multi family housing and then increase costs by more AirBnB regulation. Air BnB’s drive up housing costs as is. Simply increase the bed tax and subsidize low income housing with the increase

    • Many commenters on here are viewing this matter with low-resolution vision. Cities have zoning codes for reasons. In those codes are tables of permissible uses. People are not allowed to devalue your home by converting the home next to it into a motel. However, that is what AirBnB does. These assemblymen are trying to protect the peaceful character and value of residential neighborhoods. Its a slippery slope allowing people to use their homes as business establishments. Beware of what you wish for.

      • The “peaceful character and residential neighborhoods and devaluing of homes” are already being taken care of by the assembly when they are changing 3 plex and 4 plex zoning from business to residential so they can put up 3 and 4 plexes right next to and in between homes, (the same effect as a motel).

    • I think they just made is so builders/developers can build more “affordable” multi-family housing, which I assume is needed. I don’t think $400 is terrible for an annual STR license. Maybe I’m wrong…but seems they’re barking up the totally wrong tree. Short Term Rentals, in my understanding are mostly used by tourists. Originally Airbnb and VRBO started targeting vacationers, business travelers who wanted more than a hotel room. Stays range from 1-6 nights usually. These are usually rooms in someone’s home, a cabin or guest house, and I assume some apartments and condo’s are owned as a 2nd home and used for short term rentals. NONE of these could be afforded by houseless folks, so how are STR’s taking away from low rent housing? Yes I’m sure there are some multifamily housing units that might be being used for Short Term Rentals, and that, in fact, may be taking away from low rent (aka ‘affordable’) housing, and possibly they should be regulated to allow only monthly rentals, with maybe an allowance of one or two short term units. Let’s let folks do what they need to do with their own property to make ends meet, and structure the property taxes in accordance. In Seward we have short term rentals and we pay 3% sales tax on our rental income to the KP Borough. God forbid Anchorage have a sales tax! (Think of all those tourism dollars$) And please explain how STR’s increase the price of homes? Does the city have data on how many STR’s there are in the city limits? How many are mutifamily vs. in a private home? I bet not.

  11. Dunbar … wants short term renters to only be Alaskans. No out of state tourists. How much are Anchorage hoteliers paying him to push such a bill? Blatant corruption.

    • Think. Are you okay with the houses on each side of your’s being converted into motels with all the traffic and disruption at all hours? How much more do you want to dismantle the zoning code? Perhaps you want to see the house across the street converted into a saloon? Why are you arguing in favor of zoning mayhem?

      • They’ll be glad to convert the homes next to yours to house homeless , so long as they can pocket the money!!!

      • Skippy you keep talking about motels, but this is geared solely towards small private home rentals. Mom and Dad having a bedroom or two they post on AirBnB during the tourist season for a bit of extra income. Hotels and motels are already regulated and zoned. Yours is therefor a specious argument.

      • Skippy-The assembly is putting in plenty of traffic and disruptions with changing 3 plex and 4 plexes to residential so they can be intermingled with sfd homes. They are Not keeping residential areas quiet and peaceful, etc

    • They are property babysitters. We elect them to pass and enforce zoning codes to protect our ability to enjoy our homes in peaceful residential settings. Why are so many on here clamoring to allow defacto motels to open in their neighborhoods. I’m confused by the self-damaging mentality being expressed on here.

      • Considering how our (Juneau) neighborhoods look, it’s not a good example.

        2/3 of our community looks like a mix of a Irish slum and a run down trailer park.

        We have houses built almost on top of each other, poorly laid out streets, and zero real enforcement of any existing zoning regulations.

        What you seem to see as apathy or ignorance is more likely a predictable response to decades of municipal mismanagement and government overreach.

      • How about the Constitution, Skippy? Next thing you know I nor our cats can climb trees wearing dresses w/o a license in our own yards.

  12. I’ve been operating a VRBO for 10 years. I have 120 5 star reviews. I have paid over $25,000 in bed taxes to the city. Whatever is passed and takes affect May 1st ends my business. I should be getting an annual thank you card from the city, not a middle finger. It was a good run.

  13. Hmm peaceful neighborhood? I’d rather have a VRBO next door than the loud teens running snow machines through the yard in the winter, reviving motorcycles while doing laps in the summer, oh and the metal head screaming lyrics in an apartment on the next block.

  14. It should be obvious to all what is actually at play here by noting the players. The end goal is elimination of private property into the hands of selected minority held real estate magnates just like what has happened in California. The success of the B&B is directly related to the crazy high rates of hotel rooms during the summer. They encourage tourism and the tourists who use them are usually the nicest people and have no negative impact on the neighborhoods they visit. The hosts enjoy this 3 month activity to have a small help to make ends meet hosting nice people that usually leave the place spotless. The tourist benefits from the local knowledge of the host and returns. A win-win for all who don’t have a hidden agenda. You may note also that the majority of the hotel industry investors have deep ties to this present effort. Financial ties. These establishments are now enjoying a bonanza by having 100% off-season occupancy thanks to the assembly’s homelessness mismanagement system. Should become interesting come spring , when they will want 500 a day for their rooms from tourists again. A B$B may get 120 and a happy guest. This bunch should be ashamed of themselves for hiding behind a false narrative under the disguise of representing their constituents, even to using compensated opinioneers to overwhelm public debate. There exists no real support for any of this. I hope the last Alaskan to leave Anchorage could respectfully lower and remove our great flag.

  15. Forget the bedroom, can we get these people out of our homes, ovens, cars, schools, clothing, doors, food, restaurants, businesses, etc. etc. etc. etc. ad infinitum! They are such in infestation!!

  16. For the broken record from Juneau; there’s already voluminous regulation of motels on the books. If the current push for new regulations was truly to prevent “motels”, then said push is duplicative at best. Motels are defined enough, regulated enough, that they aren’t magically appearing in residential districts…..accordingly, no more regulations are needed to stop motels from appearing in residential districts.
    More troubling is that the proposal allows for the creation of regulations without providing much in the way of limits for those regulations. What’s to say that the regulations couldn’t require, as a condition of the $400 license, that 10% of the available rental period be specifically dedicated to the “unhoused” and at some rental rate to be set not by the homeowner, not by AirBnB, but by the omniscient assembly?

  17. The outcome from the assembly meeting on Jan 23, 2024: The public hearing on AO 2023-110 will be continued on Feb 27, 2024.

  18. This is a tax measure that other cities are employing. If I lived in Anchorage and rented out a spare room to travelers help cover property taxes and other housing-related costs, this measure would make it more difficult. Conversley, people who rent rooms from other individuals tend to be travellers who may not have the funds to cover an expensive hotel room. Not all travellers are tourists, nor are they all well-to-do. This measure hurts both ends.

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