The Missourian solicited written answers to a set of questions from the four candidates for the Columbia City Council. Pat Fowler, Greg Pierson and Mark Anderson are seeking a three-year term representing the First Ward, while Matt Pitzer is unopposed for a second term representing the Fifth Ward.
Here are their answers to the following question, which was submitted to the candidates before the council agreed on Monday to delay further discussion of short-term rental regulations for at least six months:
The Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission and the City Council continue to wrestle with how to regulate short-term rentals such as those advertised through Airbnb. What do you think should be the primary components of a comprehensive short-term rental ordinance?
Pat Fowler: The short-term rental industry has been met with push back, as communities stand up for the inventory of affordable housing they have and do not want to lose to investors buying up properties and hollowing out neighborhoods. There is a demand for short-term rentals in Columbia (full disclosure: I stay in owner-hosted STRs when I travel), and EQUITY demands that we allow them, with the same permissions and constraints, equally, in all neighborhoods regardless of zoning category. If we wish to limit, or enable, non-owner-hosted, we must limit or enable them equally in all residential zoning categories. When any Columbian enters their house or apartment, the quality of their quiet enjoyment of their home is equally valuable as the quiet enjoyment of other neighbors and neighborhoods.
Greg Pierson: In order to properly address the impact of short-term rentals on housing markets and neighborhoods here in Columbia, I believe it is necessary for the city to take proactive steps in terms of regulation. Owners of these properties need to be held accountable for any problems, and the regulations regarding hosted and un-hosted dwellings need to be made very clear to all parties. Any ordinance passed by the city should support the work of the Office of Neighborhood Services and ensure that proper resources are made available to those in charge of enforcing new regulations. We must continue to prioritize equity in any decisions made by City Council and strive to preserve the historical character of our communities. Any revenue collected from these properties should contribute to the resources we provide our neighborhoods and residents.
Mark Anderson: Established guidelines that would ensure that you would not engulf the affordable housing properties and or available lands that may be available to put affordable housing on, and just pay attention so that that way you don't get a bunch of LLCs owned by the same person trying to buy a bunch of property.
Matt Pitzer: I support plans that would allow the many good actors to thrive while being able to enforce nuisance ordinances against those who try to game the system or take advantage of neighborhoods. It is a difficult line to find, as evidenced by the now years-long process to draft regulations.