Maplewood’s 3rd Airbnb fails planning and zoning

The owner of 7127 High Street in Maplewood went before planning and zoning on Wednesday to request to operate an Airbnb. She was denied, commission member Sandi Phillips reported to 40 South, by request.

Phillips said the petition was denied after neighbors, including city council member Ray Crader, told the commission about their parking concerns.

The house is at the end of a short dead-end street, and is relatively new. It was built in 2011 after the house previously at the address burned down.

The owner can still take it to city council if she wishes, though it would need to pass with a larger majority than if it had planning and zoning’s approval.

Maplewood has two city-approved Airbnbs. The law was passed in 2015. A second Airbnb was approved in April 2016.

 

25 thoughts on “Maplewood’s 3rd Airbnb fails planning and zoning

  1. I don’t feel like many of the people on this comment feed or the P&Z (or possibly the city council) truly understand AirBNB. The people who use AirBNB are travelers wanting to spend tourist money in our town. The people who are afraid of crime clearly need to educate themselves regarding AirBNB. This seems like yet another instance where fear and ignorance made the decision instead of research and knowledge. Like the Craft Beer Cellar debacle or the ridiculous argument over food trucks, here again we are being kept in the past because a small group of uninformed people get to make the call for all of us.

    • Sure some AirBNB users are legitimate tourists but some will also be predatory criminals using this novel approach to gain entry to an unsuspecting private person’s home with the intent of committing any number of crimes. Unlike a hotel with other guests and security and policies (ID and credit card needed etc.) aimed at weeding out these people no such deterrents exist with AirBNB. Also you effectively are running a business in an areas zoned for residential living an infringing on neighbors rights to peacefully enjoy their property.. Like Uber, this business model is based on skirting existing laws and regulations…

      • Jedd – we travel airbnb and are required to upload government issued ID, sync facebook and linkedin and have to have a valid credit card. In fact, I have had to provide more information traveling airbnb then at a hotel. Please do some research before you speak.

  2. The airbnb ordinance states that owners must have off street parking, so I don’t understand what Ray’s concerns over street parking have to do with the airbnb being approved.

    • The ordinance states that the home owner must provide off street parking for the “Airbnb” guest. This home’s driveway is only one car width wide, as are most driveways in Maplewood. Therefore to comply the home owner most likely park on the street. So my concern is that an STVR is adding additional street parking to an already overburdened street. It doesn’t really matter who is parking on the street.

      • This ordinance should be applied on a consistent basis throughout the city. The fact that the only airbnb denied in Maplewood is on the councilman’s street, where the councilman voiced his displeasure, indicates to me that P&Z is not treating all airbnbs the same. Parking doesn’t meet demand in Maplewood, what’s new? My neighbors all own two cars, all frequently park one car on the street, yet i don’t see anyone forcing them to park in their own driveways. If it was that much of a concern you would certainly have been up in arms sooner.

      • I disagree. If I were your neighbor, I would be parking in the street now regardless of a driveway and regardless of not running an airbnb. Please tell me that the owner does not have a right to park in the street, because I will tell you that the homeowner pays for the right to park on a public street due to the taxes that are paid. Maplewood somehow has this idea that the spot in front of your house belongs to the homeowner.

  3. OH, COME ON–THIS IS NOT ABOUT PARKING! Allowing AirbnB’s in Maplewood is definitely a complicated issue that has not much at all to do with parking and nothing to do with Maplewood not being “progressive” enough. In fact, I would argue that Maplewood might continue to block AirBnb permits precisely because we are perhaps a little more progressive than similar communities. Mr. Crader focused on parking concerns, but quite obviously, the concern is not at all about parking! Mr. Crader has young children and although he might not say it, I am certain he and his wife are rightfully worried about unknown lodgers coming in and out of a home right next to their home. The concern is legitimate and real–it is about not having any say as to lodgers coming in and out of a home that is on your street/in your neighborhood. I have spoken to people who run AirbnB’s and while, overall, they love doing it and have thankfully not had any tragedies, they also freely admit that they have had some lodgers of questionable character–they could not wait for them to check out and they have felt lucky that nothing awful happened after they left. They have said that although very rare, they sometimes reject a lodger upon closer inspection due to a gut feeling or due to some other warning signs. But would other AirBnb owners apply the same discretion? How can you be sure? They also admit that they truly cannot ever guarantee that a lodger is going to be safe, quiet, respectable, etc. So, do you want someone on your street running an AirBnb to just end up being “lucky” with their lodgers? Heck yes you do! But, can you be assured that they will be lucky with their lodgers? Heck no, you cannot. I think that answers the question of whether or not AirBnb’s should be allowed in the small community of Maplewood. It is first and foremost a matter of safety–it is not about some false notion of being “progressive”.

    • If safety is the worry, it is truly misplaced. We have shootings rapes, assaults, burglaries, none of which were committed by a person that wanted to pay for an overnight stay at an owner occupied airbnb before committing the crime. No one is up in arms about the number of rapes committed in Maplewood so far this year, but you’re all ready to tackle this fictitious monster you’ve created in your minds.

    • As the owner of an Airbnb in Maplewood, I have only had good experiences in the almost three years of hosting. Airbnb is very thorough in vetting guest and hosts. My neighbors have had no problem with my guests. Parking has never been an issue. I guess I’m extremely lucky OR Airbnb is doing a great job of making sure that the “rapists and child molesters” go elsewhere!! (in case anyone doesn’t have a sense of humor, I’M KIDDING!)
      If anyone is still concerned about the “quality” of people that Airbnb is bringing into Maplewood, please visit the airbnb website
      https://www.airbnb.com/
      and learn about them, their policies and rules.

  4. So before AirBnB came along, was Maplewood granting permits for Bed & Breakfast (B&B) businesses? If so, then how is it any different to advertise for business using the AirBnB website?

  5. AirBNBs are not a good idea. Essentially running a hotel in a residential area without any concerns for the neighbors – allowing any stranger to flop for the night. Is the owner going to screen for criminals before letting them in? What about the neighborhood children putting them at risk by inviting some stranger in that may be druggie looking to score/steal or ac hild molester seeking the right opportunity. Zoning exists for a reason – to keep this misuse of properties from happening….

  6. Another unfortunate reminder of how Maplewood is not nearly as “progressive” as residents would like to believe. And that a city council member is one of the people speaking against is even more frustrating. This idea that public parking on the street is actually the homeowner’s private parking is rampant in the county. While dead end street parking does have some concerns, this is not a long dead end street. There are something like 3 or 4 house total on this street. Yale runs perpendicular to this street and has a lot of parking on it. This is all assuming the Air Bnb guest would rent a car or drive here.
    When the short term rentals were approved I recall there being an exorbitant cost associated. However, I don’t recall at which point it had to be paid. Would be curious to know how much the owner is out at this point.

    • Joe S., I am the City Council member that spoke out against this application last night. I did so not as a Council representative but as the closest neighbor to this property. This was a very difficult position for me to take personally. This has now put my neighbor and I in a very uncomfortable relationship that we have agreed to work to restore. We don’t need to have our situation inflamed by someone making comments without the facts.

      I am very much a “progressive” and am greatly in favor of Short Term Vacation Rentals. I have used them myself on many occasions when traveling and I think they are a great resource. But there are many underlying factors that you are not aware of as you do not live on this short narrow street. I do not believe that the street is my own personal parking space, if fact I wonder if parking should be allowed at all on this street. This short section of High street is one of, if not THE narrowest streets in all of Maplewood. My concern first and foremost is for public safety and the ability to get emergency vehicles to my property and the petitioner’s property.

      To your last point, yes I believe it is very expense to apply for a STVR permit. It is my understanding that if the application is denied for any reason then the applicant will receive a full refund. If that is not the case then I am more than happy to fully refund the application fee to this applicant. It is certainly not about the money. But it would help future applicants if they would reach out to their neighbors before applying. Really talk to them. Find out how they really feel about your plans. Don’t just assume that because you have a good relationship that your neighbor is on board for whatever you want to do. Really listen to their concerns.

      I have already reached out to this neighbor and am optimistic that we can work together to come to some understandings. It is my hope that she and I turn this into a positive experience and that I can come out in full support for her plans when they are presented to the City Council for approval on July 11th.

      • Ray, Thanks for taking time to reply. After posting, I was considering writing a personal message to you since you are a ward 2 council member (where I live). You have addressed part of what I was going to say. I respect that you have the right to voice your concern just as any other citizen may despite also having a role representing the government. Whether the P&Z would give your testimony the same weight as any other citizen is debatable but it does not preclude your right to speak. If this issue were presented to the council I hope that your vote on would be reflective of a broader picture or at least that you abstain since your personal involvement in the issue.
        That being said, in reply to the idea that I should not have an opinion on the matter because I am “without the facts” and there are “underlying factors that I am not aware of” seems a bit misguided. Your statement alludes that the facts are based on the width of the street and some particular knowledge that is gained by living at your exact address. While I don’t live on your dead end, I do live on one of the very few dead end streets in your ward and am aware of problems that can arise (hence my acknowledgement of it in my original statement). I gave consideration to the idea that parking on an alternate street is not overly burdensome in this case. Also the current stance of the city is that it is legal to park on that street and therefore safe. Any desire to change this in the future should not factor into the current decision. I would be interested in learning of other “facts” about this case. I put effort into understanding the MW government by attending citizens academy and attending council meetings. If I lack facts about a situation it is because the government could improve the way they keep citizens informed appropriately. I am glad to care enough to have an opinion and will continue to voice it with respect and consideration.

        • Joe, I want to thank you for taking the time to become involved in our community. So many do not, but choose rather to make comments here without thought of the impact of those comments. I also thank you for keeping your comments respectful. I hope I have done so as well. This is also often lacking in the comment section here.
          You most certainly do have the right to an opinion. I would go further to say you have not only a right, but a responsibility to express your opinion. But you seemed to imply, in your first 2 sentences of the first post, that based on my opposition to this application I was automatically part of the problem of trying to hinder the progress of our great community. I am not. My opposition was based solely on my own personal knowledge of the situation.
          I did recently vote against, along with my fellow Ward 2 Councilman Tim Dunn, changing the ordinance that prevents STVR [Short Term Vacation Rental] in higher density neighborhoods. Currently STVR’s are only allowed in Single Family Residential Districts. I can’t speak for Tim but I can say for myself I believe that parking is already too burdensome in these other districts. I will admit I did not have the opportunity to gauge the communities opinion of this matter before voting. I now have a Facebook site to allow the community to discuss with me matters that I may be voting on. My desire is to truly represent the will on my community and not only my own. I encourage anyone in this community to engage me there.
          I would rather not get into the specifics of my opposition to this particular STVR here in the comment section. I made my comments public at the meeting last night and the applicant made her comments public as well. The P&Z committee voted 3-2 against recommending this application after hearing public comments and discussing amongst themselves and asking follow-up questions to both myself and the applicant. I don’t know if my comments had any more weight as a Councilman, I certainly hope they did not. I will inquire with the City Attorney if it is more appropriate for me to abstain if this matter comes before City Council.
          If anyone would like to discuss this matter any further, or any matter before the City, feel free to contact me through the City of Maplewood website or via my Facebook page.

          • Hi Ray, I hope the council can find a way to televise these public meetings (youtube, facebook, etc.). It would go a long way to stop the spread of misinformation.

    • Joe, I guess that you define “Progressive” as letting everyone do what they want without thinking what maybe best for the neighborhood or community. I am glad that I don’t live in a city as “Progressive” as that.

    • Travelers from Australia do not pack their vehicles. WashU Parents from New York do not drive to town. Graduate Fellows from Beijing are looking for a place to walk to, not park in. Scholars and academics arrive in this district in Uber cabs. This is hardly a parking problem. Nobody knows the importance of emergency vehicles like I do, and nobody outside the Crader family and I know the trauma associated with losing all your possessions and almost your life in a devastating house fire. Without the help of the Maplewood Fire department, we would not be so lucky today. It is my priority to keep emergency fire lanes accessible, the primary concern.

      Ray Crader is my neighbor, my mentor, my alderman and my friend. We have an agreement and yet this the wild frontier of the early days of social sharing, I’m happy to be a trailblazer.
      $499 is the out of pocket court costs compared to the $344 dollars I have earned on this supplemental income. The question is not probability of crime, the conflict of interest in my alderman also being my neighbor, or maplewood being progressive. The question is how this city government is inclusive to the residential rights of one single family home and biased against another two blocks to the east on Yale.

      Further insult in this matter exists on the city website, set as a April fools joke on the “Community Developments” official website page: This needs to come down if applications are going to be declined.
      Live Link: http://www.cityofmaplewood.com/482/Sutton-Loop-Airbnb

      If Maplewood wants to decide to be selectively inclusive, I will continue to struggle to pay the rising tax rates on this several hundred thousand dollar investment I have chosen to build in this city. My problem, I get it. If the city of Maplewood does not desire international travelers, academics and scholars to arrive into your city to spend money on your merchants, then we need to sent them to the Delmar Loop.

      If you don’t like my fire:
      http://thehousethatclairebuilt.blogspot.com/

      • Both short term rentals approved previously resided within single family residential zoning: Nick Deccio and Adelina Mart – 7601 Weaver Ave; Lamira Martin – 7433 Zephyr Place

        According to the MW zoning map (http://mo-maplewood.civicplus.com/DocumentCenter/View/910) 7127 High Street is zoned medium density residential. Please correct me if wrong.

        While I don’t agree with the ordinance as it is written because of instances like this one, it is clear in Section 14-802-A. “Short term vacation rentals shall be permitted only in owner occupied single family residencies within the SR Single family Residential Zoning District and as permitted as provided in the zoning ordinance.”
        https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B2IHDZqMby5kbW9VbGR0alBYSWs/view

        However, while the zoning argument is briefly mentioned in Mr Crader’s post above, it does not seem to be the major concern. It also does not seem to be a major concern to part of the P&Z since it was not unanimously opposed. This seems like it would have been a big discussion point at the P&Z- granting a permit for an Air BNB outside the permitted zone. Is the map outdated on this instance? Was this addressed at the P&Z?
        As a side note, this is why taking one month to approve the minutes of a P&Z meeting and making them public 3 weeks after the topic goes in front of the city council is an ineffective way of keeping the public informed. I am going to try an make it tomorrow night to see how this plays out.

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