Tybee Island — a picturesque beach community just 20 minutes from Savannah, Georgia — has seen a surge in short-term vacation rental operations in recent years. That type of expansion has, consequently, strained the city’s resources.
To address the issue, the Tybee Island city council recently approved a 90-day moratorium that prevents homeowners from registering their properties as vacation rentals.
The moratorium will give the city time to investigate and address complaints from full-time residents. Those residents note that the influx of vacationers creates parking problems and allows excess garbage to accumulate.
“If you put two people in each one of those [short-term vacation rental property’s] bedrooms, we are doubling our residency here – over doubling it,” Tybee Island resident Mack Kitchens told WTOC-TV. “There are already too many of those units and the island isn’t designed to accommodate the amount of people they bring in.”
A Scenic Beach Community
Tybee Island, a barrier island off Georgia’s coast, is known for its 5 miles of public beaches. The pier and pavilion on the south end of the island are ideal spots for fishing or simply looking out at the ocean. And for history buffs or lighthouse enthusiasts, the Tybee Lighthouse is one of the nation’s oldest lighthouses — built in 1736.
The island is also home to roughly 800 houses, cottages, and condos. As you would expect on an island, the city also has 25 restaurants, many of which offer fresh, local seafood.
The Moratorium’s Purpose
Last week, the city of Tybee Island’s city council passed a resolution noting that roughly 40 percent of the housing units on the island are now short-term vacation rental operations. The moratorium, which took effect immediately, prevents people from registering or obtaining permits for a short-term vacation rental operation for 3 months.
“The purpose of the 90-day moratorium is to give the city time to investigate issues including water withdrawal impacts, zoning improvements, infrastructure demands, parking and public safety,” the resolution explains. “It also gives the city time to further explore methods of controlling or regulating occupancy to a reasonable degree for such short-term rental operations.”
It’s important to note, however, that there are exceptions to the moratorium. Specifically, if the owner of a permitted short-term rental decides to sell their property, the city can still issue a short-term rental permit to the new owners while the moratorium is in place.
A Degree Of Opposition
The moratorium on short-term vacation rental permits wasn’t welcomed warmly by everyone on Tybee Island. Some real estate agents, for example, say the moratorium isn’t necessary and may prevent some homes from selling.
Jenny Rutherford, a local real estate broker, said her firm has 34 Tybee Island properties under contract. She’s now concerned a rental moratorium could prevent some of those homes from closing.
“A lot of these buyers are planning to use their property as a vacation rental,” Rutherford said in an Associated Press story.
If you’d like to learn more about Tybee Island, be sure to read “The Best Things To Do On Tybee Island: Where To Eat, Stay, And Play,” as well as “8 Quaint Beach Towns In The Southeast.” Be sure to also check out all of our Savannah and Georgia coverage.