Residents hoping updated bill on short-term rentals can help regulate problem properties

Published: Sep. 21, 2023 at 7:02 AM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - St. Louis City is trying to tackle short-term rental rules after efforts have fallen flat, for years.

Alderwoman Cara Spencer tells First Alert Four she finally has her hands on an updated bill that could be catalyst for improving what some call problem properties.

However, some think the proposal and others miss the mark.

“It’s not enough to write an ordinance, you have to enforce it at the end of the day,” said Les Sternman.

Sternman lives in Downtown St. Louis and has been for nearly 20 years. He tells First Alert Four within two blocks where he lives there are 40 short-term rental properties.

“We see pretty much everything, gunfire, fights spilling out into the streets,” said Sternman.

First Alert 4 tracked violence linked to short-term rentals in the city for years.

“The city – we are one of the very last places on earth to not have regulations,” said Ward 8 Alderwoman Cara Spencer. “This is one of the most important issues facing us.”

Alderwoman Spencer is the acting chair of the Transportation and Commerce Committee she says she just got her hands on a new proposal this week -- outlining what could be the city’s first regulations on short term rentals.

“At least at first glance, we’ve included some of those,” said Spencer. I wanted to see a two-night minimum and it will do away with a lot of the parties.”

Spencer couldn’t speak much about the updated bill by Alderman Bret Narayan, but says she’s reviewing it.

There have been regulations proposed within the Board of Alderman at least since 2018, but nothing has passed.

“This is a complicated issue, so certainly we want to get it right,” said Spencer. “Well, I mean… short term rentals, the zoning components,  making sure the permitting process and there’s a lot of lawsuits nationally about it.

Steven Pona is part of the group ‘Neighborhoods are for Neighbors.’ He says the bills introduced this summer reverse long-standing zoning regulations and create a “wild west” approach.

“Short-term rentals have become the hourly rate hotel, and they’re in neighborhoods,” said Pona. “We recognize this is part of the new economy, but there’s a time and place. Not in residential neighborhoods and when you’re downtown they need to be regulated too.”

Pona lives in South City and within 500 feet of his home -- there are seven short-term rentals. Some claim to have five bedrooms but can hold 14 guests.

Pona hopes ‘Neighborhoods are for Neighbors’ can help the Board of Alderman get regulations to help with the violence St. Louis City has seen related to these.

“Now that we are in the process of getting our chambers back, the moment we can have a hearing, I’m ready to do that. “A big part of it is to make sure the community has the ability to help us regulate it.”