It did so a day after receiving a letter from the council Tuesday asking the commission to pass emergency rules to be followed by a permanent change in zoning regulations.
The council wants the rules altered to end an awkward situation in which thousands of property owners are renting space in their homes on a short-term basis — and generating millions of dollars of tax revenue for the city — even though such activity is technically prohibited in residential neighborhoods.
The city rarely, if ever, has enforced those zoning regulations. Meanwhile, short-term rentals have grown rapidly in recent years with the increasing popularity of Airbnb, HomeAway and other homesharing websites.
The council has given initial approval to a bill that bans short-term rentals of second homes and places some limits and conditions on the ability of homeowners to rent out their primary homes. The legislation would require hosts to meet new licensing, insurance and safety requirements and to rent the space for no more than 90 days a year when the host is absent.
But the council recently postponed final action on the legislation after the chief financial officer called attention to widely ignored zoning rules that forbid short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods — where most homesharing now occurs.
If enforced, the rules on the books would shut down nearly all short-term rentals, and the city would lose as much as $25 million a year in tax revenue it currently earns from homesharing transactions in the city, the chief financial officer said.
“It is imperative — both to the city’s finances and the need for a viable regulatory scheme, that the Zoning Regulations be revised,” said the letter to the zoning commission, signed by all 13 council members.
The zoning commission may keep the process moving forward Monday by asking the city’s office of planning to propose amendments to the zoning regulations, according to Office of Zoning Director Sara Bardin.
If such a request is made, then once the amendments are received the commission could adopt emergency rules that would be in force for 120 days and could be extended.
To adopt permanent changes, the commission would first have to hold a public hearing, which could be contentious given that some community groups have objected to homesharing, saying short-term rentals are hurting the quality of life in their residential neighborhoods.