Some folks are fired up at the idea of Tulsa changing its zoning code to allow commercial short term rentals like Airbnb’s in neighborhoods.
A petition is going around Midtown encouraging neighbors to sign the petition to turn into City Councilor Kara Joy McKee who represents District 4.
The petition says: This will take away from our established neighborhood atmosphere. We choose this area for the well established safe friendly neighborhood. It is my feat that the commercial Short Term Rentals and AirBNB’s (Sic) will cause problems with parking, safety and noise.”
“I’m absolutely against it,” said retired judge, David Winslow.
Winslow and his wife have lived in Midtown since 1963. He tell us he knows all his neighbors and he likes it that way.
“You don’t know who’s gonna bet here, how long they’re gonna be there, how they’re gonna use it, ow many are gonna be there.”
Winslow says he’s lived this nightmare once already when the house right next to his was rented out to film a movie. He says there was equipment, cameras and lights hauled in and at all hours they were running, screaming and filming just feet away.
“It brings another element to the neighborhood that’s not predictable, not governable and doesn’t fit it,” Winslow added.
Natasha Hancin agrees. She lives one street over from the Winslow’s. As a single mother of two young boys safety is top of mind.
“It makes me cringe, it makes me cringe. It’s just scary,” She said at the thought of having short term rentals near her home.
Hancin says there have recently been safety concerns in her neighborhood and she doesn’t want to add any other reasons to worry about her safety or the safety of her children.
“We’ve had recent break-ins so, that’s not related to Airbnb but you know it’s concerning. Like, I already have that concern you know, we’re not a gated community.”
But not everyone was against it. We talked with several people who told us the idea of short term rentals in their neighborhood didn’t concern them at all. Some believe if you own the property you have the right to do with it what you choose. The handful of people in favor of short term rentals declined our request to be interviewed for this piece.
We took the petition and the concerns of Mr. Winslow and Ms. Hancin to their City Councilor, Kara Joy Mckee.
“There are already more than 300 Airbnb’s in operation in Tulsa and they’ve been operating for a while. Some have had complaints, the vast majority of the neighbors haven’t even noticed,” said McKee.
McKee says she recently has heard from constituents on both sides of the issue. Those who are concerned primarily about safety in their neighborhoods and others who see this as a positive for Tulsa with an opportunity to make some extra money.
“You try to outlaw Airbnb’s they all just go underground and that’s not what we want. The city needs the power to be able to enforce the laws and to do it really well. I want to make sure that neighbors are safe,” said McKee.
Mckee also stated that she does support a ban on commercial short term rentals in areas where neighbors come together and say, we just don’t want it here.
“I’d also like to see us use things like a neighborhood overlay to give neighbors the opportunity to disallow Airbnb in their neighborhood if that’s something that all the neighbors want to get together and do.”
As far a city-wide ban on commercial short term rentals like Airbnb, McKee says that is highly unlikely but she stresses that there needs to be a way to enforce rules on those who are operating them. She would like to see the city hire a person who is in charge of enforcing the rules and zoning guidelines if the city council agrees to take that step to allow commercial short term rentals in the city.
“Most people don’t even notice when there’s an Airbnb next door but when they do notice and there is a problem we need to be able to get out there and fix it and that’s what the zoning change is all about,“ McKee added.