Airbnb regulations finally heading to Kansas City Council for vote

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- After three years of discussions, an ordinance regulating Airbnb rentals will finally head to the full Kansas City Council for a vote.

A fourth and final public hearing was held on the matter Wednesday.

Planning and Zoning committee members outlined the latest rendition, which would bar Airbnb in certain low-density neighborhoods but allow people to keep operating who have already been doing so.

Steve Mitchell, a real-estate attorney and Airbnb host, was among those who questioned the legality of grandfathering in illegal operations while blocking new hosts from operating.

"It doesn't take a constitutional attorney to figure out that isn't going to fly," Mitchell said.

The ordinance requires operators who don’t live in their homes at least 270 days per year to get approval from 55 percent of neighbors.

But it would block multiplex owners from having any more than 25 percent of apartments be short-term rentals.

“It feels defeating, that we’ve put all this work and are very proud of our properties," said Laura Helmuth Miller, who operates four Airbnb apartments near the Nelson Atkins Museum.

“I didn’t buy my property 45 years ago with the idea that I would have quasi hotel popping up next to me," said Tim Henry, president of the Birchwood Homes Association. "I still like the idea of knowing who my neighbors are day by day."

The committee decided to send the ordinance to the full council without making a recommendation on whether it should be approved.

A lobbyist for Expedia asked the committee to put things on hold for at least a year to further study the issue.

It appears the final council vote will likely be later this month.