Grandview Heights City Council is poised to make a long-term decision regarding the question of short-term rental properties in the city.

Council held a first reading March 2 of an ordinance co-sponsored by councilwomen Rebekah Hatzifotinos and Melanie Houston that would make short-term rental properties, such as those offered by Airbnb and other companies, a conditional use in residential districts -- as long as the property is simultaneously occupied by the owner or lessee.

The ordinance is scheduled to receive three readings, with a final vote by council at its April 6 meeting, said Hatzifotinos, who leads council's planning and administration committee.

The committee met before council's March 16 meeting to review the legislation. Both meetings were livestreamed on YouTube in keeping with Gov. Mike DeWine's statewide order to limit large gatherings of 10 people to stem the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Hatzifotinos said by requiring property owners to remain occupants of their homes, the ordinance she and Houston co-sponsored is designed to serve as "a middle ground" between an outright ban on short-term rentals and accepting them in the community without any restrictions.

"We wanted to find a sweet spot that balances our need to protect the well-being and quality of life of people in our community and at the same time keeps Grandview a welcoming place for visitors and allows residents to earn some extra money by renting for a short term a room in their house or one side of their duplex or a unit in their apartment building," Houston said.

Because a short-term rental would be a conditional use in a residential district, a property owner would need to receive the approval of the city's planning commission and building department.

The conditional use would be given with the understanding that no guest would stay longer than 30 consecutive days.

"Any time longer than that would be considered as a month-to-month tenancy under Ohio's landlord code," Hatzifotinos said.

Someone who owns a duplex would need to reside in one side of the building to be able to rent out the adjoining unit for short-term stays, she said.

In the case of a multifamily building, the owner also would need to live in one of the units, and only one of the adjoining units could be used for short-term rentals, Hatzifotinos said.

A conditional use would have to be granted for either a duplex or multifamily building, she said.

The owners of properties would have to register each building or unit authorized by the planning commission and building department to be used as short-term rental.

Registrations would expire after one year and need to be renewed annually with a $50 registration fee.

The applicants would be required to provide information, including proof of identity of each legal owner or lessee of each short-term rental property. If the short-term rental host is a lessee or permanent occupant, but not the property owner, they would have to get permission from the owner to register the property with the city.

The applicant also would have to provide confirmation that the short-term rental building or unit is insured for at least $300,000, that each room offered as a sleeping space has a smoke-detection system and that at least one easily accessible fire extinguisher is available per level.

"One of the most important provisions we've included in the ordinance is a 'three strikes and you're out' measure," Houston said.

The legislation states the owner of a property bears the responsibility of ensuring a guest paying for a short-term stay takes care of the property and does not engage in activities that violate city or state law regarding nuisances or use of controlled substances or disturbs neighbors' "peaceful environment."

"We're trying to address some of the issues that were raised by the neighbors of a short-term rental property nearly a year ago," Houston said.

Residents who live near a Norton Avenue home used as an Airbnb rental attended a council meeting in May 2019 to voice their concerns that the home -- which was not occupied by the owner -- often appeared to serve as a party house for guests, resulting in excessive noise and residents losing parking spaces to people visiting the house.

Three or more violations of the standards set for short-term rental-home occupations within one year would result in the permanent revocation of the permit to operate a short-term rental at the property where the violations occurred, Houston said.

An initial violation of the section addressing short-term rentals the legislation would add to the city code would be considered a minor misdemeanor and would be subject to a $500 fine, with a larger fine of $1,000 for subsequent violations within the first year.

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