VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - After many city council briefings, a public hearing session lasting about two hours and about two years of trying to get a grasp on short-term rentals, city council has deferred voting on the matter for 60 days.
In Tuesday's city council brief session, the city attorney started off the meeting by addressing the General Assembly's vote to pass a bill protecting short-term regulations in Sandbridge. The bill allows the rentals to exist but the city can choose how to regulate them. During the public hearing session two weeks ago, about 34 of the 55 public speakers were from the Sandbridge area.
When Mayor Will Sessoms opened up the discussion Tuesday afternoon, no council member spoke first. Instead, the mayor said city council has been dealt a hand they have to deal with as far as Sandbridge is concerned, and now council needs to figure out what to do with the rest of the city.
Mayor Sessoms said his main concern is to make sure they are operated properly, have a good management company and don't become a nuisance to neighbors.
"A lot of people are dependent on income to help pay some of the bills that they're having," said Councilman Bobby Dyer of Centerville.
Shawn Brown, who lives in Lynnhaven, is one of them. He rents out a three bedroom townhouse most of the year and said he needs the income.
"I have babies; I have children! So it helps out tremendously. It has made a big difference in my family's lives," said Brown.
Brown lives across the street from the townhouse and said his neighbors know about it and have his number if issues come up, but they've only run into a few small issues. His clientele are usually people or families who are coming into town for business or visiting family and don't want to stay in a hotel. He's registered with the Commissioner and pays taxes on his rental. The delay in a vote concerns him.
"It's disruptive and it's unfair to the people who own the properties next to them," said Vice Mayor Louis Jones.
Donna Watson, who lives in Sandbridge, said she was looking forward to the vote next week.
"I'm very disappointed. This is an issue we've been dealing with for almost three years now," said Watson. "My concern is we’re going to continue to have the wild parties, people will continue to rent for three days and have a big blowout party. We’ve been enduring this for years now and unfortunately, unless the city or management companies step in and take control, it's just going to continue to deteriorate. I don’t want my neighborhood to be known as the wild party city where anything goes."
City council was scheduled to vote March 20.