Arlington Co. allows Airbnb rentals, Fairfax Co. may be next

WASHINGTON — Arlington County allows residents to rent out their homes on sites such as Airbnb and HomeAway, and neighboring Fairfax County may follow.

Possible zoning ordinance changes that would make such rentals legal were discussed Tuesday during the Fairfax County board of supervisors’ Development Process Committee meeting.

Supervisor John Cook said although he doesn’t like short-term rentals, “Many people do, so I think we have to have them.”

“One of the biggest issues is parking. I don’t see parking addressed here,” said Supervisor Linda Smyth, after hearing an outline of possible changes presented by zoning staff.

Among things that need to be worked out is whether to limit the number of nights per year a resident would be allowed to rent out their house.

“If you’re going to do this, it has to be some number. I would put it at 30 nights,” said Supervisor John Foust.

Another question is whether to allow rentals for weddings and other events.

“If the owner’s not there, I don’t know that I would … allow an event. Otherwise, you’re asking for big, big, big trouble,” said Supervisor Pat Herrity.

“I’d rather see us be more restrictive than broader. I really think we need to control this,” Supervisor Penny Gross said.

At the meeting, supervisors also heard results of an online survey of county residents on the topic. The survey got more than 7,600 responses from residents in every part of the county.

Among the nearly 3,300 responses submitted with written comments, the top concerns were neighborhood character, enforcement, and safety and security.

Several community meetings about short-term rentals were held last month, and another is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 12 at the County Government Center.

The goal is to give a set of proposed changes to the full board of supervisors by early next year.

Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter turned morning anchor at WTOP News.

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