Raleigh looks toward stricter Airbnb regulation

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Airbnb is a popular way for people to book an affordable place to stay that feels like home. The deal finder has taken off in Raleigh, but some City Council members are pushing back and calling for stricter regulations.

"It's a business at the end of the day and businesses need to be regulated," said City Council member Kay Crowder.

Crowder says the city has an obligation to make sure visitors are safe when they stay in these houses.

Right now, there are hundreds of people renting out their Raleigh homes. Technically, it is illegal. The only time the law is enforced, though, is when someone files a complaint.

For more than a year, Gregg Stebben has been opening up his Five Points home to virtual strangers. He has had 90 Airbnb visitors.

"We're wonderful people here in Raleigh. We attract wonderful visitors," said Stebben.

Stebben has concerns as the city looks to start regulating short-term rentals.

"Airbnb should self-regulate so cities don't have to," he said.

The City Council has been mulling over the issue since the beginning of the year. Now, the idea is to require hosts to have an on-site manager. We're told that individual would not be a city employee, but it's not clear who would be hired or how much it would cost.

"If we're going to really change zoning in residential areas, 'cause we really would be turning our zoning upside down, we need to look at how that effects our city on the long-term. How does it affect the convention center business? How does it affect our hotels?" asked Crowder.

One city has recently tried to implement restrictions and failed. On Election Day, voters in San Francisco shot down a proposal. This comes after Airbnb shelled out more than $8 million to defeat the measure.

"I'm pro-Raleigh. If Raleigh outlaws this, it's a terrible, terrible business move. It's going to hurt the business climate," said Stebben.

The Planning Commission is reviewing the proposal now. There's no timetable when it'll be sent to the Council for consideration.

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