Statement from Councilwoman Nirva LaFortune Regarding Short-Term Rentals

Last night, my colleagues on the City Council passed a series of text changes to the zoning ordinance that would place reasonable restrictions on short-term rentals in some residential neighborhoods.

About a year ago I, along with former Councilman Sam Zurier, put forth these text changes after several community conversations regarding issues that were affecting our neighbors due to short-term property rentals, such as those found on Airbnb. We had multiple community meetings; we listened to the constituents who had concerns, as well as those who were Airbnb hosts, and we worked with the City’s zoning department to develop the most suitable guidelines to attempt to meet both Airbnb host and non-host needs.

I believe that people should have the right to make decisions about their homes and have options for making incremental revenue, but not at the cost of our neighbors’ quality of life.

On many occasions we have heard stories of parties that got out of hand, damage sustained to properties both rented and near by, or neighbors unable to leave for work because their driveways were blocked. We couldn’t sit by and let that happen. What makes Providence so special is the vibrancy and diversity of our neighbors and residential communities. It is important that we maintain the safety and integrity of our communities.

This series of text changes is quite simple compared to other cities. It requires short-term rental properties to be owner-occupied and permitted through a new registration process with the City’s Department of Inspection and Standards.

As the original co-sponsor of this ordinance, I am very happy to see it come to fruition and believe that our neighborhoods will be better and safer for it.

I thank the Chair and members of the Ordinance Committee, my council colleagues and all the residents who came out to share their concerns or support so that we can now have an administrative process that will protect our communities.

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