City Council postpones vacation lodging decision


First Ward Representative Gloria Betcher at an Ames City Council meeting June 18.

Jacob Smith

Ames City Council voted to postpone the decision on vacation lodging restrictions to a date uncertain at Tuesday’s meeting.

Council has been pushing back voting on the issue since July 23 due to various reasons: absence of council members, debate over proper language, and now, to add finishing touches to the ordinance.

Previously, the council needed clarity on what vacation lodging is.

It came to the decision that vacation lodging “means the Guest Lodging of an entire dwelling unit, which is not required to be the owner’s primary residence and which is generally offered for investment purposes through an online marketplace as a form of Guest Lodging,” as stated in the amendment to subsection 29.201 (235.1) of the municipal code.

Council decided that a 1,000-foot radius should be measured out between each vacation lodge in order to limit the amount of vacation lodges in residential areas.

The restriction applies to non-owner-occupied houses and stretches out 1,000-feet from the outline of the property in every direction.

Currently, the use of residential homes exclusively for lodging is illegal without a permit.

“It’s not as if this ordinance will preclude something, that, prior to the ordinance, was permitted,” said Tim Gartin, ward two representative. “We’re not taking away something with value and use.”

Council came to the decision in a 5-1 vote to create a two-week window of time where the 1,000-foot restriction would not apply to applicants who already have currently registered properties and have a permit.

Gloria Betcher, ward one representative, voted against the decision. She was worried about the potential impact of many properties registering during the window, and it taking away the community aspect of the area.

“I’ve had constituents calling me the last two days that are very concerned because they’re seeing homes on their blocks being purchased and they’ve been told that they’re gonna create an Airbnb,” Betcher said. “There does seem to be a . . . trend toward properties being sold that were not rental before that are now going to be converted to Airbnb. So, I’m back to that concern for the stability of the neighborhoods and the erosion of community in those areas.”

The Council then passed a motion to postpone voting on the ordinance as a whole until a date uncertain, awaiting the new finishing touches to be added.

For more information on the Ames City Council, visit its website online at