Published in the Savannah Morning News: Letters to the Editor
February 17, 2020
Downtown group opposed to STVR bill
The members of the Savannah Downtown Neighborhood Association stand opposed to House Bill 523, which seeks to prohibit Georgia municipalities from regulating in any way short-term vacation rentals, commonly referred to as STVRs.
As many are aware, Savannah enacted an STVR ordinance in 2014. The ordinance was revised through protracted negotiations involving stakeholders from all sides of the STVR issue. It fairly addresses the needs of all stakeholders and provides a predictable roadmap for managing STVR development.
HB 523 would have this agreement invalidated and removed. It eliminates local control of a purely local issue and changes the future course of the City of Savannah and the rights of its citizens and local government to determine what is in the best interest of their community.
Should HB 523 be signed into law there would be no restrictions on the number of residential units bought and converted into a STVR. We have already started seeing homes being developed, marketed and sold as potential STVR investment property. These sales remove from the marketplace housing that could be available for longer-term renters from the local workforce and raises the cost of homeownership, therefore pricing homes far above what young families can afford.
Additionally, the bill eliminates all oversight and inspection from the city on any STVR property. This issue alone is enough to concern any reasonable public safety official. We ask you to think about the potential for overcrowding, as STVR owners typically charge per bed, resulting in overcrowded homes and the potential lack of fire safety systems. The potential for loss of life is one potential result of this elimination of home rule for Savannah.
We are asking our state legislators to oppose HB 523 and instead support home rule for the city of Savannah and the demands of its citizens.
David B. McDonald, president
Downtown Neighborhood Association of Savannah, GA Inc