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Nov. 7 City Council Recap

Updated: Nov 24, 2023

After a year of review, the Fredericksburg City Council approved a new STR Ordinance on November 7, 2023. This ordinance fully replaces the current STR ordinance that went into effect on April 1 of 2022. The new ordinance will take effect on January 1, 2024. Over the next several weeks our city staff will be rolling out additional information and guidelines for STR owners and operators. Here are a few key differences between the 2022 ordinance and the one that was just approved:

  • R2 zoning will now be treated similarly to R1 zoning - no new R2 Facilities and restrictions limiting new permit applications.

  • Permit renewals will go before the Zoning Board of Adjustments for approval rather than our current process of approving conditional use permits.

  • For new permit applications parking and occupancy requirements have changed. Going forward, new permits are limited to a maximum of 12 guests regardless of the number of bedrooms or square footage of the property. 

  • Changes in enforcement violations: minor violations relating to trash, water, advertising and lighting may now be stacked, i.e. three minor violations equals a major violation. Three major violations in a twelve month period may result in City Council review and suspension of permit for 90 days. Noise violations, failure to update information and failure for the designated 24 hour contact person to respond to a call are now considered a major violation.

STR Alliance members Randy Briley, Tami Smith and Belinda McDonnell served on the mayor’s STR Task Force from October of 2022 to January of 2023. At that time the Neighborhood Coalition Task Force members were pursuing a moratorium on new STR permits, eliminating the right to transfer a permit to new property owners, and dramatically reducing the numbers of operating STRs by setting time limits for their permit duration (sunsetting). All Task Force members found agreement in the need for improvements in the enforcement of the ordinance.

Alliance Task Force members were able to share pragmatic information relating to best practices in hosting/ operating an STR and to share potential legal considerations in drafting the ordinance. We were also able to show that the data the City was using to determine numbers of existing and past STRs was corrupted and inaccurate.

Additionally, we determined that the STR software provider had not delivered fully functioning software creating further impediments in getting accurate data. Key areas that the Alliance successfully moderated throughout the year long draft of the new ordinance are:

  • We retained the right for current STR Permit holders to transfer their permit to a new property owner (if the permit is in good standing). No sunsetting of current STR permits. New permits after December 31st of this year will not be transferable. 

  • We retained the ability for current STR Permit holders to to maintain their current occupancy limits and parking requirements. The requirements for new STR Permit applications will be more stringent. 

  • The percentage requirements for “stranded properties” was improved from 75% to 50%.

  • Suspension of permits, if found in violation, are limited to 90 days. The Neighborhood Coalition members were seeking either a twelve month suspension or termination of permit.

  • A new software provider has been hired. We will see a roll out of the new software on January 1, 2024.

  • City Staff is committed to better communication with STR Permit holders and property managers. They have created a new City STR website and newsletter. Look for additional information on the website by January 1, 2024.

It is critical that we continue to advocate and work together for Fredericksburg short-term rentals. If you have not yet become a member, now is the time to join.

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