The Maplewood resident, Claire Martin, whose request for a permit for a short term vacation rental (Airbnb) was denied by planning and zoning took it to city council on Tuesday. The council tabled the vote; Martin said after the meeting she would now have an attorney speak for her.
Martin read a statement to the council in a public hearing. When the item came up in the meeting Mayor Barry Greenberg said the vote should be tabled because Martin had said on 40 South she would be seeking legal counsel and they should wait to see what happens.
Martin said she feels it’s her right as a resident, and that she feels bullied.
“I’m going to implement my civic rights, and I’m going to use an attorney. I used him before when I built this house,” she said.
“At the same time, like I told my neighbor, Ray (city council member Ray Crader), I want to live here until I die. It’s more important for me to be neighborly than it is to win this, but now that it’s gotten to the level of bias and inequality, I think there should be some whistle-blowing, and I’ll have my attorney do that,” Martin said. “If I was a white man things would be different. I’ve had this problem before. When I was 25, building this house, this whole council made it impossible to try to build here and I succeeded, so I’m just going to stick with that path.”
Martin’s statement to the city council:
Dear City Council Members,
Thank you for the opportunity to apply for a short term vacation rental permit in the City of Maplewood. I have learned a lot in this process and I look forward to establishing an equally beneficial plan with the Council.
Here is a little bit of background regarding my property. In 2011 my home was assessed at $136,300. Six years later in 2017 my home was reassessed at $237,800 after I rebuilt my property from a complete loss house fire. There has been a 43% tax increase in a total of 6-year time-frame. I relied on the Emergency Fire Support of Maplewood, which is funded by tax payers. I appreciated that support during my time of need and see it as a priceless value to the residents of Maplewood.
In order to fill the gap of income from my rise in taxes I created supplemental income on my property in order to cover these costs. After beginning my AirBNB listing in October 2016, the City of Maplewood mailed a citation to my home on January 25, 2017. I never received this letter and was unaware that I was not in compliance with city ordinance.
I understand this is a concern to the Council, as it appears blatantly disrespectful of civic compliance. When subsequent court citations arrived in the mail on April 27, 2017, I promptly applied on May 1, 2017 for a short term vacation rental permit. I have paid in full for the opportunity to be reviewed in front of the board today.
A special thanks to the help Anthony Traxler has given me to understand this approval process, and I regret that I did not stay ahead of the application process prior to receiving a citation in the mail.
On the Maplewood Website, located under the Community Development page, lists a story titled “ Sutton Loop Park AirBNB.” You can find it if you click on the Community Development Department Drop Down List. (Link http://www.cityofmaplewood.com/482/Sutton-Loop-Airbnb) . This story is written as public service announcement in an effort to, “support a community of entrepreneurs who call Maplewood Home”. This content, presented as an April Fool’s Joke, does not belong on the front page of the Community Development website. I would like to formally request the city take this page down as I find it offensive and unprofessional in light of this review process. In my opinion this is not a positive representation of this council, or the city of Maplewood’s residents and business owners. It is not supportive, or inclusive.
In the June Design and Review hearing the Board voted against my favor in 2 vs. 3 vote. My alderman, who is also my neighbor, was the only public objection. Regardless of this conflict of interest Ray, Cindy, Austin and Nathan Crader are considered great neighbors, friends, and are like my family. Ray also happens to be an architectural and civic mentor to me the past eight years as I rebuilt my home. Ray and I have always had a great relationship and I have learned his concern regarding parking is paramount in my same concern for emergency vehicle access. After the Design and Review hearing we had a discussion and look forward to working together to enforce tidy parking and accountability for travelers.
I have invested more money in the right to apply for this permit then I have in income from the social sharing platform. However it has been a joy to host international travelers, beer enthusiasts, and outdoor lovers who come to play in Forest Park or study at Washington University. I would like to present the positive response ratings as evidence of the seven travelers I have hosted in my owner occupied single family residence. Of the seven visitors who have stayed in my home, only three came with vehicles, and parked in public street parking on Yale Avenue. I plan to keep it that way.
In conclusion, I ask the council today to treat my application the same way you treated the Short Term Vacation Rental located two blocks south of my home on 7113 South Street 63143. I am committed to keeping public parking open and accessible to emergency vehicles. I am happy to provide contact information to the city of my guest log. I will proudly display my permit in the window and list it on my Airbnb listing. I will comply with the concerns of the Council and provide any documents they may need regarding my Airbnb guests.
I have increased my home insurance liability coverage by 10%, and I continue to support this city in every taxable way. I am serious about the safety of the residents on my street as well as in Maplewood, this is a great community to live in. We are trailblazing a society of social sharing and I realize it is not without road bumps. I look forward to being on the forefront of this exciting journey with your help.