Dover City Council holds annual meeting

An ordinance that would make it more difficult for Dover homeowners to consistently rent out rooms for short periods of time, like an Airbnb or unofficial hotel, is in the works. Director of Planning and Inspections Dave Hugg presented the newest version during the city council’s annual organizational meeting May 11.

It is the city’s first ordinance that specifically addresses short-term rentals, identified as any home where a renter stays for less than 30 days.

Some of the new regulations include:

Owners must have a short-term rental license. Owners must be permanent residents of Dover and live in the home when they are not renting it out. The number of guests should never exceed double the amount of rooms. (For example, a three-bedroom house has a maximum of six people). Owners cannot rent their home for more than 30 total days in a calendar year.

“It makes it feasible for someone to rent their house to a guest for Firefly or Dover Days or the races of Dover Downs,” Hugg said. “[But,] it limits their ability to rent it weekend after weekend after weekend.”

City council referred this version to staff for further revisions. Hugg said he will make changes after more discussions around landlord-tenant law. Then, he will bring it back to council.

While many short-term rentals in Dover do not cause problems with their neighbors, a few have sparked complaints about parking, noise, trash or rowdy behavior, Hugg said.

Several people who live in the Sherwood neighborhood were at the city council meeting Feb. 10 to express concerns about a neighbor who was hosting an Airbnb. Barbara Shepperson represented them. She said they noticed multiple cars coming in at odd hours, guests cutting through their yards and trash piling up for weeks.

“If the host wants to rent the house, let them rent it for a year,” she said. “I hope you all vote to change this type of rental.”

Hugg said the biggest problem is when people buy a house for the sole purpose of renting it out and have no intention of living there. “Our ordinances addressing rentals simply don’t address the issue adequately,” he said.

Council President Bill Hare has supported new regulations. During the meeting, he said any property operating like a hotel should be regulated like one. If people want to register as a bed-and-breakfast, they can still do that, he said.

“If they want to do it as a hotel, they should meet all the requirements of a hotel,” he said. “I think that’s the only fair thing to do.”

To read the full ordinance, visit https://evogov.s3.us-west-2.amazonaws.com/27/media/269214.pdf.

More council news

Councilman Bill Hare, 2nd District, was re-elected president.

He ran against Councilman Roy Sudler, 4th District. The final tally was not announced. City solicitor Nicholas Rodriguez announced the results after privately calling each council member and recording his vote.

Mayor Robin Christiansen talked about the city’s resilience in his state of the city address.

He told residents they will get through the pandemic just like they have survived and flourished after other historic challenges. “This city, this state and this nation will rise to new heights of economic prosperity for all,” he said. “We will come back bigger and better and stronger than before.”