City to pursue short-term rental cases

The City of Biloxi’s Community Court on Wednesday will hear eight cases involving unlicensed short-term rentals operating in the city.

The cases involve short-term rentals on Lickskillet Road, Lameuse Street, Southern Avenue, St. Paul Avenue, Kimbrough Boulevard, Gill Avenue, Todd Cove and Howard Avenue.

All are either operating in neighborhoods zoned for single families or without proper city licenses.

There are currently 297 licensed short-term rentals operating within the city.

The short-term rental issue, buoyed by online sales and marketing, has become an option for those travelers whom operators say favor a bed-and-breakfast setting over a hotel. However, tracking and regulating the short-term rentals — making sure zoning allows the operation and that appropriate taxes are paid — can be a challenge for city, county and state officials, who all share a level of oversight.

Another issue: Residents complaining about disruption to their homes or nearby condo units vs. the rights of developers and investors in what some see as a burgeoning market.

“Short-term rental has become a very controversial issue, especially in the single family and multi-family zones,” said Biloxi Community Development Director Jerry Creel. “The interest we’re seeing today can be traced back to 2010, when the Land Development Ordinance was changed to allow short-term rentals in condos and apartment complexes — as a conditional use. This means that the applicant must comply with certain conditions; Planning Commission and City Council approval are also required.”

Added Creel: “In certain commercial zones, short-term rentals are allowed without a conditional use. No short-term rentals are allowed in single-family residential zones. The whole purpose is to protect the property rights of all.”

News & notes: Weekly report, infrastructure, council

Weekly report: The city’s Community Development Department issued 55 permits with a total construction valuation of $1.859 million last week, while also performing 108 building inspections and myriad other tasks. Get the inside story on last week’s activities in Community Development and the city’s other key departments in the Weekly Report. To see the archive, click here.

Infrastructure update: It’s true, all of Howard Avenue is open to traffic, especially that section between Porter Avenue and Caillavet Street. Smoother asphalt is also in the works. To see the latest on infrastructure, from a four-minute Jan. 17 video, click here.

Council meeting: The Biloxi City Council meets this afternoon at 1:30 at City Hall. To see the agenda for the meeting, along with supporting documents, click here.