Unintended consequence of rental cap limiting short-term rentals to be addressed by city council


Residents of Ames gather Sept. 25, 2018, at City Hall.

Talon Delaney

Short-term rentals such as Airbnb may fall under a rental cap proposal from earlier in the year as there is no language in the city code to treat short-term rentals differently.

City Council is having a special meeting Tuesday at 4:45 p.m. before their regularly scheduled 6 p.m. meeting.

“Those who are contemplating this type of business venture or who are concerned about short-term rentals in their neighborhood are encouraged to attend the meeting,” according to a city-issued press release.

The regulation passed in May and limited the amount of rental properties in the neighborhoods surrounding Iowa State’s campus to 25 percent. The regulations were amended in August to allow rental properties to continue if they existed as early as Oct. 27, 2017, or if a homeowner was only renting certain rooms of their property.  

The council is concerned about whether this rental cap applies to short term rentals like Airbnb, so the decisions will determine whether or not short-term rentals are allowed in three categories:

The first category suggests homeowners “could offer a room in their owner-occupied residence,” the second declares “an owner-occupied home could be rented in its entirety for no more than 90 days a year,” and the third category explores whether someone can buy a home for short-term renting only, according to the press release.

The council will also discuss using public funding to fix flooding issues in the city’s infrastructure. They will vote to renovate land alongside 1008 S. Duff Ave. and 1016 S. Duff Ave. These areas border Squaw Creek and saw nominal flooding over the spring and summer seasons.

Ames saw high amounts of rainfall throughout 2018, so much that the city issued a public warning in October urging residents to stay safe during storms.

The results of the annual Ames satisfaction survey will be revealed at the meeting. These results are gathered from 536 participants in a personal questionnaire. Respondents were part of two categories: Iowa State students and permanent Ames residents, and each group returned 268 surveys. The population of Ames in 2017 was 66,498, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

City Council documents say 382 respondents from each group are needed for a completely accurate assessment of community satisfaction.

“The 536 completed surveys indicate that we are 95 percent confident that the questions are within 4.19 percent of the results if everybody participated in the study,” according to council documents. “In other words, the findings or the data significantly reflect the responses of the total population.”

Respondents were asked their opinions on adjusting tax rates and altering law enforcement activity, to record their personal happiness levels on a 1-4 scale and also responded to more than 20 other questions regarding personal satisfaction.

Editors note: This article originally said the rental cap was the reason short-term rentals in Ames are in question when it is that there is a lack of language in Ames code  defining short-term rentals. This article also said the city council meeting  starts at 4:45 p.m.: the meeting starts at 6 p.m. while the special meeting starts at 4:45 p.m. The Daily regrets these errors.