The public spoke out to the Metro Council for more than two hours on Tuesday night about proposed short-term rental regulations. The council’s preliminary response shows that at least some new restrictions are likely on platforms such as Airbnb, but there’s still a push to do more.
The debate included fervent comments, colorful references to “sex parties” and the Magna Carta, and several emotional testimonials — at times drawing tears from those at the podium.
From those who operate home rentals, Nashville’s latest proposal — bill 937 — signals an improvement. The rules would somewhat slow the spread of Airbnb-type rentals, and make it easier for officials to revoke permits at noisy party houses.
“Finally we’ve got a compromise on the table,” said Brian Foster, of Bellevue, who runs a short-term rental. “It’s not ideal for me; it doesn’t allow for me to grow … (but) we need a compromise bill where everyone walks out a little disappointed but can live with it.”
However opponents, in short, say they cannot live with it.
They say that what’s on the table after a year of negotiating isn’t a compromise, but a clear win for the online rental platforms.
Those like Anderson Williams, of East Nashville, argue the plan would officially allow commercial operations into neighborhoods, going further than ever to undermine residential zoning protections.
“Your vote … will be the tool to dismantle residential zoning in our city,” he told the council. “This is about the direction of our city. If you truly believe that residential zoning should be a thing of the past in Nashville, then you should vote for 937, because that’s the direction it’s taking us.”
The council did advance the proposal to a final vote, but it was an unusually close decision on what is often a procedural step. Before that next vote, the bill could be revised, and members still may opt for a stricter ordinance, bill 608, that they’ve considered before.