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Boise Mayor Bieter backs off on short-term rental rules

Bieter says the announcement comes after a large response to the idea.

BOISE, Idaho — Boise Mayor Dave Bieter announced Wednesday that he will not recommend creating new policies to regulate short-term rentals in the city of Boise.

Previously, the city was considering regulations that included making property owners get approval or a permit to run any short-term rental.

In a two-week-long online survey about the proposals, about 67% of people that responded to the city indicated that they are opposed to changing the city code so that short-term rentals are regulated.

With that in mind, Bieter says any advisory groups to look into the issue will be put on hold.

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"Frankly, it was hard for me to imagine a consensus emerging from that," Bieter said.

The mayor says he knows there are plenty of affordable housing issues that need to be tackled in Boise, but that regulating short-term rentals wasn't the solution.

"The idea is more affordable housing, that's where we are trying to get. But, it did not appear that this would be a vehicle to really produce that in the end," Bieter said.

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Bieter is less than two weeks out from his mayoral runoff with City Council President Lauren McLean. 

McLean put out a statement in response to the announcement saying,

“The incumbent mayor has changed his mind twice since August on short term rentals. He's long said that the city can't act on this issue, then proposed an aggressive slate of regulations, and now says he will pursue none of them and that "consensus is futile." I hope these choices are the result of earnest listening to residents and not a political calculation close to an election.” 

Bieter says it was hearing from people around town which lead to his announcement. 

"It really was these interactions with voters, citizens, voters all around town that really convinced me," Bieter said. "It was important that, we, we are just going to stop and let it go and take a look at it and let some other things play forward."

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Lori Dicaire, founder of Vanishing Boise, says her group has concerns.

Vanishing Boise is a group aimed at preserving affordable housing in the city. 

They responded to the announcement saying in part,

Short-term regulation isn’t a silver bullet to solving our affordable housing crisis but it is an critical contributor to the problem.  If it true as Boise says that we need to build a 1,000 units a year just to keep up with growth, the over 1,200 units on Airbnb could make a significant dent in the problem. The regulations as envisioned would have protected property owners who wanted to help pay their mortgage by using a mother-in-law cottage as a short-term rental.  Failing to move forward on regulations that protect a use that could benefit our residents will leave us vulnerable to more draconian regulations written to benefit big investors or the hotel industry."