Short Term Rentals & Zoning

Started by Lee Longstreet, December 16, 2021, 04:22:02 PM

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Lee Longstreet

SUBJECT:  STR Rezoning Appeal 2021-2643-ZC ... A-4 to NC-4

Public Meeting - To be held Jan. 4 @ 6pm 2022 in the St. Tammany parish council chambers on Koop Dr. in Mandeville.

The property at 450 Eden Isles Dr. has been used as a short term rental contrary to zoning that restricts it's use to that of a single family residence. 

The owners have been issued a cease and desist order from St. Tammany Parish but are now appealing for a zoning change to NC-4.  I think we need to consider that NC-4 as defined in the zoning ordinance includes the rights granted within the classifications of NC-3, NC-2 and NC-1.  NC-3 does allow for short term rentals. 

The granting of a NC-4 variance would not only codify STR operations but allow full neighborhood commercial activities.  Please see and click on "Residential Zoning" for a good index into the St. Tammany parish code.  The property in question was not permitted for these types of operations, contrary to our covenants and not wanted in our neighborhood. 

The reason this appeal is so important is that if the variance were to be granted then this would set legal precedent for others sure to follow.  Let's say another home wanted to do STR's, then they too could appeal for a variance citing the zoning appeals board had already given a variance to someone else in the neighborhood.  This would likely spread and destroy the very character of the neighborhood. 

Lee Longstreet

Short Term Rentals in Single Family Zoned Neighborhoods

Consistent with the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance short term rentals have never been a permitted use in any zoning district. 

While short term rentals may be appropriate in certain commercial, mixed use and permitted rural overlay areas they are not compatible with residentially zoned areas, especially subdivisions zoned for single family residential use. 

Short term rentals are business operations whereby there is a flow of temporary stays by visitors for revenue akin to the operation of a hotel and as such should be subject to the same plot development standards such as parking, building setbacks, construction standards, etc. 

Problems with short term rentals:

Reality of the short term rental:
Because of the lack of supervision associated with short term rentals and because there are 2 or more rooms in a home, they draw groups that routinely have more of an impact than the typical hotel occupant which is in itself obviously commercial. 

They are visitors mostly coming to party and use the property as a cheap event venue hosting many more people than a home would typically support.  Sometimes it turns into an "Animal House" - boisterous public behavior, live bands or DJ, outdoor drunkenness, cursing, drug use, karaoke, sexually suggestive behavior, use of watercraft with no experience, trespass upon and invading the privacy of neighboring property, block access to parking and strange people giving neighbors that creepy feeling.

Short term rentals are occupied by visitors that have no vested interest in the community and because their stay is temporary are not typically concerned with the impact they have on neighboring homes.   For the same reasons they cannot register to vote.  In the end "visitor" and "resident" are and will always remain different words legally and otherwise. 

Short term rental occupants are visitors and therefore local law enforcement does not have a "heads up" of possible incoming criminal activity. 

Sometimes short term rentals are booked by a "clean party" that passes credit and other background checks only to turn around and invite more in mass to join in.  It is impossible for the booking agent to know the character of these additional guests that seem to just show up. 

Short term rentals are magnets for illegal and unwanted activities.  There could be off-site gambling, drug dealers, addicts, prostitutes, sexual predators, criminals on the run, etc.  Under the short term rental atmosphere Sex Offenders skirt the lawfully required notice to the community as required by Louisiana law yet they are staying maybe 10 feet from your bedroom window with no on-site supervision at all. 

Traffic is substantially impacted by Short Term Rentals.  Because the occupant's stay is temporary they are running here and there to different attractions and to pick up last minute items.  Multiply this by the rush mentality and number of occupants and the amount and nature of the traffic suffers.

Property values:
No family is going to knowingly buy a family home next door to a short term rental, it destroys the single family home atmosphere.  Those wishing to sell after a neighboring home goes "short term rental" will find that only another short term rental will purchase their home.  This spreads like a slow moving cancer destroying a neighborhood. 

Intended Use and Enforcement by the parish:
Single family residential construction most often occurs in high density subdivisions whereby homes are often separated by as little as 10 - 12 feet.  Such close spacing precludes parking facilities supportive of gatherings typically associated with the short term vacationing, partying or event atmospheres.  These same types of gatherings often damage the peaceful family oriented atmosphere protected by zoning ordinance. 

Why are the zoning laws not being enforced right now?  There is nothing more important or personal to a resident than his home.  Not respecting the zoning already in place is not only a violation of law but also a violation of public trust in our elected officials.  Some have said that enforcement is difficult.  I think not. 

Structures are permitted, inspected and purpose built.  When construction is completed a Certificate of Occupancy is issued before occupancy can take place.   Construction specifications as well as its intended purpose both affect the Certificate of Occupancy.  If a structure is subsequently used for a different purpose its Certificate of Occupancy can be pulled until the structure comes into compliance.  If all else fails this is a tool that may be used to force compliance.

If a property zoned as "single family residence" is advertised as a "Short Term Rental", or any other non-conforming use, or a complaint is confirmed then code enforcement simply places a "Cease and Desist" notice on the property.  If that is ignored then a summons to appear in court is issued whereby a fine per occurrence is issued along with the warning that if the violation is repeated then the "Certificate of Occupancy" will be withdrawn and that the power company will be notified to discontinue electrical service until the court is satisfied with a plan that ensures future violations will not occur. 

In summary, Hotels are not only taxed and regulated but have on-site management and security.  Hotels are where visitors belong, not roaming in and out of single family neighborhoods where people are raising their families.

submitted by
Lee Longstreet
June 29, 2021

Lee Longstreet

April 13, 2022

Attention everyone:

The aforementioned parties involved in Eden Isles STR's (in my opinion) are absolutely running an illegal operation and at the very least subject to civil lawsuit and per occurrence monetary damages.   

I personally went to the St. Tammany Parish Courthouse in Covington and pulled copies of the covenants for Eden Isles many years ago because I did not receive a copy at the act of sale when we purchased our home in 2008.  All residents should strive to adhere as much as possible to the covenants to preserve the quality of our neighborhood.  You can review the covenants here:

While much has been said about the enforceability of our covenants let me clear up some of those misconceptions.  As originally provided, the covenants designated the "Architectural Committee" (first appointed by the developer) as a stand alone governing authority to be independently elected by the property owners.  This entity is separate and apart from any subsequent formation of an HOA or in our case Civic Association.  Note, a true and legally binding HOA must be defined in the property's deed, or subsequently voted on by all of the property owners and entered into the legal courthouse records.  No one can alter your deed without you agreeing to it. 

Following Hurricane Katrina formalities were replaced by necessities and the Architectural Committee was allowed to disband.  However, that did not cancel the enforceability of the covenants.  To the credit and vision of the developers the covenants included the provision that any property owner had the right to enforce the covenants.  Any property owner can sue an offending party relative to a breach of the covenants.  Such a breach would especially include misuse of a home by running a commercial operation that disturbs the neighbors or the community.   

At the final hearing on the STR issue before the council I entered a copy of the original covenants recorded in the courthouse as part of my statement.  I wanted the council to know that not only did their ordinance clarify that STR's were commercial operations akin to an unsupervised micro hotel but that in Eden Isles that sort of property use was prohibited via deed of ownership since the inception of our neighborhood as of record filed on May 24, 1973. 

In summary STR's are not only illegal but have always been so.  You have the ability to stop this but the offended party must take action.  Unfortunately, in the lack of parish enforcement, you must bring a civil suit against the offending party.   I doubt that someone who's life has been damaged by a STR would have any problem attracting donations to support the expense of court action.  I also think in the case of Eden Isles that a letter of condemnation from the HOA to the Louisiana State Bar Association is in order. 

... Lee Longstreet

- Reference material at , "community", "STR"
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