Isle Of Palms Seeks Resident Input On Short-term Rentals

By Brian Sherman for The Island Eye News

The Isle of Palms Council will hear what residents have to say about recommendations to change the way the city views short-term rentals at three “listening sessions” this month. 

Scheduled for Sept. 14, Sept. 21 and Sept. 28, the meetings will begin at 5 p.m. at the Recreation Center. Mayor Phillip Pounds said he is hoping for up to 100 people to attend each session. The recommendations were presented to the Council by the Planning Commission on June 21 after a year-long study. At the Council’s Aug. 23 meeting, Mayor Phillip Pounds said the sessions would begin with a 10-to-15-minute presentation on the Commission’s plan and the impact it would have on the short-term rental industry on the island. Next, participants will break up into tables of eight to 10 people, discuss various issues related to short-term rentals and report back to the entire group. “We felt it was important to give residents a voice in whatever direction the City Council was going to head,” Pounds said later. “We want them to give us their opinion. We’re just trying to give the people a voice.” The Planning Commission recommended that the city limit the number of short-term rental licenses on parts of the island not including the high-priced properties along the beach. A cap would be set at 10% above the number of licenses issued in 2020 in three areas: zone 1 – southwest of the IOP Connector along Palm Boulevard; zone 2 – the neighborhoods northeast of the Connector and north of the houses along Palm Boulevard; and zone 3 – most of Wild Dunes and the areas west of Wild Dunes. Director of Building, Planning and Zoning Douglas Kerr said at the June 21 meeting that the cap would not apply in areas where 25% of the properties already are rented. This includes Palm between 21st and 41st avenues, south of Palm from 41st to 57th avenues, and Palmetto Boulevard. 

Commercial and multifamily properties would be exempt throughout the island. In 2020, out of 1,414 shortterm rentals, 1,057 were in the uncapped area: 71 in zone 1; 134 in zone 2; and 152 in zone 3. The Planning Commission also recommended that if a home is sold, the buyer will be able to purchase a short term rental license and that occupancy limits be set at eight in capped areas and reduced to 12 in uncapped areas if a home ceases to be a rental for at least a year and later becomes a rental. Daytime limits would be twice the nighttime limits. Rental homes that were grandfathered in when the city set the occupancy limit at 12 have a higher limit, but, in any case, the city doesn’t permit gatherings of more than 40 at any rental home. The Planning Commission also has suggested that those who have short-term rental licenses must take in at least $3,000 a year to maintain those licenses. Current owners of rental homes probably won’t lose their licenses – at least not right away, according to Kerr. At the Aug. 23 meeting, Council Member John Bogosian pointed out that the Council “should do more listening than talking.” Pounds said there is no timetable as to when the Council will take action on the Planning Commission’s recommendations. To register to attend one or more of the listening sessions, visit iop.net/news/short-termrental-regulations-listeningsessions.

In other action at its Aug. 23 meeting, the Council voted to designate several activities as city-sponsored events, including: the Oct. 9 Operation Heal Our Heroes 5K run/walk; a Coastal Christian Prep cross country beach race; and an Oct. 22 beach rugby tournament to raise funds for rugby programs at Lucy Beckham, Bishop England and James Island High Schools. The Council also accepted the low bid of $304,048 from IPA Construction Group to build a boardwalk at beach access 34A. 

Pounds pointed out that the city has obtained a $120,000 grant for the project. 

The Council also accepted the recommendation of the Accommodations Tax Advisory Committee and awarded $1,000 in ATAX funds to the Carolina Surf Club.

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