Owners and neighbors discuss proposed short-term rental ordinance at Tuesday night hearing

Published 3:29 pm Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

NATCHEZ — Owners of short-term rental properties in the city had the chance to voice their opinions on an ordinance the city’s board of aldermen is considering, which would regulate them.

Most seemed to agree that short-term rentals in the city should be regulated, but they objected to certain aspects of the proposed ordinance.

Matthew Adams, 214 Linton Ave., urged city officials to better define the difference in a short-term rental and a bed and breakfast.

Email newsletter signup

“My understanding is in a bed and breakfast, rooms are individually rented and prepared breakfast is served. We are doing continental breakfast — fruits and pastries — and they can make their own coffee. I don’t know if that’s a B&B or not. We have our permit and have our privilege license, which we have renewed each year, even thought we shut down for COVID,” Adams said.

He also said the ordinance requires a manager of the property who lives in Adams County be designated. Adams said he has a manager who lives in Vidalia, Louisiana, who can get to his property more quickly than some who live in Adams County.

David Bourgeois of Zachary, Louisiana, said he owns a home at 507 S. Canal St., which he purchased as a vacation home. When he is not using it personally, he said he rents it out via the online platforms VRBO and Air BNB.

Bourgeois objects to the requirement that an owner or manager of the property must live in Adams County. He said he lives about an hour away and can get to the property quickly. Bourgeois also said his neighbors have his contact information and know they can call him any time of day or night if they have any kind of problem with the property.

JoAnne Roper of 15 Brown St. said she has operated short-term rentals in Natchez for seven years.

“I applaud this. It’s about time. It’s not fair to us who have followed the rules,” Roper said. “This city is a wonderful place. During my first two years here I had over 1,300 guests come to stay from 18 different countries.”

Heather Cunningham, 32 Cemetery Road, who operates King’s Daughters Bed and Breakfast, complained about four short-term rentals located near her.

“I live in a beautiful neighborhood up on the bluff, which is a rarity here,” she said. “I literally have four short-term rentals right next to me. I have a neighbor who is selling her home and it is going to turn into a short-term rental as well.”

Cunningham said the same person, who lives in Washington State, owns each of the short-term rentals.

“His generator runs all the time. People smoke pot on the bluff next to me. I am constantly picking up beer cans in my front yard. The trash cans are never pulled to the road,” she said. No one local is available to care for those short-term rental properties and she urged city officials to continue on with insisting someone local be required to care for short-term rentals.

“I think we absolutely need this regulation. Maybe some tweaking to what Frankie has proposed, but it is critical that we have this and short-term rentals should be held to at least the standards of bed and breakfasts,” Cunningham said.

Natchez business owner Richard Branyan said he owns three short-term rentals and complained about the part of the ordinance that would require paying license and other fees for them as separate entities.

Leona Adams of 112 S. Charles St. said bed and breakfasts and short-term rentals are eroding the integrity of those who live in downtown neighborhoods like hers.

“These short-term rentals and B&Bs have been popping up like mushrooms lately,” Adams said. “There needs to be some control. All of downtown has become just rentals, and I am at the very end of what is considered downtown…This needs to slow down. Work with the people who already have their permits, but please stop having so much of this imposed on the rest of us who bought here to simply live here in peace.”

Aldermen make no decision on the proposed ordinance Tuesday night, but agreed to take it under advisement.

Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson and Ward 3 Alderwoman Sarah Carter Smith, who also serves as mayor pro tem, had to recuse themselves from the discussion because each owns a guesthouse in the city.

After a minor skirmish, it was settled that Ward 1 Alderwoman Valencia Hall, who chairs the aldermen’s ordinance committee, would conduct the public hearing in the absence of the mayor and mayor pro tem.

About 50 people interested in the discussion attended the hearing.

Short-term rentals and bed and breakfast facilities differ in a number of ways and are regulated differently. A short-term rental is a single or duplex dwelling in which the entire dwelling is rented out for less than 30 days at a time. A bed and breakfast facility rents out individual rooms of a dwelling, rather than the whole house. Bed and breakfast facilities are required to have a live-in owner or full-time manager, as well as serve breakfast to those who are renting rooms.