Mayor Bowser Declines to Sign Short-Term Rental Bill

Last November, the DC Council passed a bill regulating the city’s short-term rental industry. However, the bill is now headed to Congress without Mayor Bowser’s signature.

News came yesterday that the mayor had declined to sign the bill, submitting a letter to the DC Council explaining, among other things, her concern that the bill did not adequately balance the interests of homeowners and others who host using short-term rental platforms with the interests of those concerned about the proliferation of these rentals.

“Bill 22-92 is more restrictive on short-term rentals than some surrounding jurisdictions, and, as a result, I am concerned about the impact on our homeowners and visitors,” the letter states.

Bowser’s letter also notes that the Office of the Attorney General has advised her that the bill may be unconstitutional. “A similar bill enacted by New York City was found to violate the Fourth Amendment because its mandatory reporting requirements amounted to an unconstitutional seizure of booking services’ data,” the letter continues. “The mandatory reporting requirements in Bill 22-92 mirror those in the New York City bill and would likely fail to pass constitutional muster on the same grounds.”

It remains to be seen whether Congress chooses to intervene on the bill during its 30-day review period, although the House of Representatives has a DC statehood bill on the docket which has garnered a record number of co-sponsors and likely to get its first markup since 1993.

Meanwhile, the Zoning Commission is also awaiting guidance from the Office of Planning on how best to legalize short-term rentals in residential zones of the city, as a great deal of the short-term rentals currently operating are illegal by zoning standards.

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