TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WSAV) — The debate over short-term vacation rentals on Tybee Island could be coming to an end soon. It’s been more than a year since the city put a freeze on new permits for short-term rentals.

Later this week, the city council will discuss a proposed ordinance with new rules for property owners.

The moratorium was put into effect in August 2021 and was meant to last just 90 days. But it’s now set to expire at the end of October, after a third extension.

On Thursday, city council is holding a public hearing to discuss a proposed ordinance for short-term rentals before officially voting on it.

Tybee city leaders say short-term vacation rentals make up more than 40% of total properties on the island. The moratorium on new permits was first put into place so the city could look at issues like parking and infrastructure demands.

More than a year later, Mayor Shirley Sessions said she’s ready to finish debating the issue and focus on other city business.

“Hopefully the council will agree on the ordinance that will be something everyone will be able to live with,” Sessions said. “I certainly don’t think by any means it will be something that everybody agrees on and wants.”

It’s an issue some residents say has created tension in the community. The ordinance includes a proposal to ban new permits for rental properties that don’t already have on in three residential zones, one of which encompasses a large portion of the south end.

“If you were unable to get it before the moratorium happened or you’re building a home or bought a lot to build on, this is going to affect you because you’re not going to be able to get a rental license and that could be pretty devastating as properties are selling in the future if there’s no rental history on that property,” said Jenny Rutherford, Broker & Owner of Jenny Rutherford Real Estate.

The ordinance contains a number of other proposals:

  • properties would be required to have one parking space per bedroom plus one more, with no parking allowed on the grass
  • if a short-term rental in R-1, R-1-B and R-2 zones fails to conduct short term rentals (less than 30 days each), at least 90 days of rental at full market value within a 12 month period, it would be presumed abandoned and not authorized for use

Rental owners themselves say any change to the rules, big or small, will be felt.

“We’re going to see a really profound impact on rentals in the near future because as the number of rentals decline, there would certainly be an increase on the price of rentals that remain and exist,” said Joel Clackum/Owns vacation rental.

Sessions said re-writing the rules for short-term rentals stemmed from complaints about noise and overcrowding and the goal is to improve quality of life.

“We just want people to know that this is a residential community and we would ask that people be respectful of that and would really love for people to live here full time,” Sessions said.

Thursday’s public hearing for the ordinance is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at the public safety building on 78 Ban Horne Ave. City council will officially vote on the ordinance on October 13.

To read the proposed amendments that will be discussed, click or tap here.

The ordinance primarily addresses rental properties in R-1, R-1-B and R-2 zones. To view a zoning map of the island, click or tap here.