Community Development Planner Jackie Wilde gave a very illuminating presentation on Seward’s booming short term rental businesses to the City Council on August 27, 2018.
Data received by Harmari, a lodging audit company, showed 197 short term rental businesses in Seward city limits, but only 111 are currently licensed. 86 business are either not licensed or no information was found.
The potential loss of sales tax and bed tax income is considerable. Potential losses from unlicensed AirBnB properties gross sales are estimated to be $584,000; losses from unlicensed non AirBnB properties gross sales are estimated to be $606,000.
The company provides business name, location, ownership, and other information on these unlicensed businesses. This will help the city pursue compliance.
Unlicensed short term rental businesses have not had a safety inspection by the fire department, and may not have an operable, inspected fire extinguisher, smoke and CO detectors, clear Exit and safety instructions, egress windows for all sleeping areas, etc. In addition, they may not be operating in a legal zoning district.
Businesses that are not in compliance operate at an unfair advantage to compliant businesses that have the safety inspection and contribute sales and bed taxes.
The Community Development Department is currently seeking input from the public and Planning and Zoning Commissioners to revise and update Seward’s out-dated short term rental city codes.
The Seward Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a public work session on Nightly Lodging and Safety at 6 pm on Tuesday, September 18 at the City Council Chambers at Fifth and Adams.
Please spread the word and plan to attend!