Residents who live in the area of Norton Avenue and West Second Avenue in Grandview Heights attended the May 6 meeting of City Council to air their concerns about a nearby house allegedly being used as a short-term rental through the Airbnb website.
The discussion led city officials to agree it might be time to consider whether Grandview should join other communities that have regulated Airbnb and similar short-term rental operations.
The house in Grandview, the address and owner of which was not identified during the meeting, "typically is more of a party house than an Airbnb," said Susan Kukla, who lives on West Second Avenue.
"It's a very small house," but is advertised as sleeping up to nine people, she said.
"The people who are staying (there) don't know the neighborhood; they're not worried about the neighborhood," Kukla said. "There are there for a few days to enjoy life."
The previous weekend before the council meeting had featured "three nights of parties" at the house, with as many as 13 cars parked on the street from guests or visitors at the house, she said.
"People who live on Norton can't even park on their street," Kukla said.
"I'm just very worried about the neighborhood and worried about the people this is attracting," she said.
The large number of visitors the house often seems to attract results in a lot of noise, said Craig Berlin, who lives on West Second Avenue.
"People across the alley had to get up at 4 a.m. to close their windows because they couldn't sleep because of all the noise," he said.
He's "not 100 percent against" Airbnbs and other short-term rentals, Berlin said, "but I do think maybe there needs to be a limit" on how many people can stay at a house or the number of nights each year a property can be rented for short stays.
His concern is that more properties will be used for short-term rentals in Grandview and it will "change the dynamic" of the community, he said.
Michael O'Connor said he works at home during the day and has seen suspicious activity and behavior by people going into or coming out of the house.
"Are they doing anything illegal? Well, not that I can see," he said. "But none of us here are naive. You know something is going on."
City Attorney Joelle Khouzam asked the residents if they have contacted Airbnb's online resolutions center.
Some of the residents indicated they had but did not hear back from the company.
Others said they have contacted Grandview police to complain about the noise and vehicles parked in no-parking zones.
"This is a situation facing most cities," Mayor Ray DeGraw said. "It was something we knew was going to hit here and we've started talking about how we're going to handle this."
It's difficult to identify homes that are being used for short-term rentals because there are so many platforms in addition to Airbnb, and often properties are advertised as being in a general area without the address being posted, he said.
Communities have tried various measures to address the issue in their area, from regulations to outright bans of short-term rentals, DeGraw said.
One example is Upper Arlington, whose City Council voted in April to ban short-term rentals.
The more successful efforts have included requiring property owners to serve as hosts for their Airbnb "so that they operate more like a bed and breakfast where the owners are there, so you have some control for what is there," he said.
If Grandview decides to continue to allow short-term rentals to operate in the community, some effort at regulating will be needed, DeGraw said.
Attempts at banning short-term rentals have been challenged in court, and many of those issues are still pending, he said.
"The important thing is at least to get them registered so we can get inspections done and have more power to do some things," DeGraw said.
Residents should call police when they believe suspicious or nuisance activity is occurring at a short-term rental property in their neighborhood, Councilman Anthony Panzera said.
"The more you call, the more attention you will get," he said.
When a property is resulting in frequent complaints, the instances need to be documented, so that if Grandview does adopt regulations, the action it may take would be based on those cases or complaints, Panzera said.
Any effort to create legislation will require "a lot of open hearings and roundtable-style discussions where we bring in a variety of folks," including community members and representatives of the short-term rental industry, he said.
"I would encourage some roundtable open discussions that are not built around specific legislation or a specific direction" to be held in the next few months, Panzera said.
Councilwoman Emily Keeler said she recently stayed at an Airbnb in Toledo.
"Our host was very cognizant of his neighbors and made sure he communicated that to me in an effective way," she said. "When done correctly, (short-term rentals) can be a great way for people to travel a little more inexpensively."
Short-term rentals also could be a way for people to live in Grandview and make a little extra money, Keeler said.
"At the same time, it's our community and we need to make sure we're good neighbors," she said.