Council to consider short-term rentals ordinance

Second reading and public hearing scheduled for February 2024

Homer currently has no existing regulations for short-term rentals; that may be changing in the near future.

The Homer City Council introduced at their last regular meeting on Monday, Nov. 13, Ordinance 23-61, which if adopted will amend city code Title 5 to add Chapter 5.48 Short Term Rentals.

The ordinance has been referred to the Planning Commission and Economic Development Advisory Commission for extensive review and commentary. According to an Oct. 25 memorandum from City Manager Rob Dumouchel to the council, there are “many questions which need to be investigated by each commission.” The City also intends to engage with some stakeholder groups on this draft ordinance.

A public hearing for Ordinance 23-61 is currently scheduled to be held at the council’s Feb. 26 meeting.

According to Section 5.48.020 of the chapter, as currently laid out in the ordinance, the intent of adding Chapter 5.48 to city code is “to protect general health and safety of the public within the City of Homer,” while also ensuring short-term rentals operate in a lawful way, pay applicable fees or taxes, and do not negatively impact the quality of life for their neighbors.

The chapter also includes definitions related to short-term rentals; permit and permit renewal guidelines; definitions of nonconforming uses; public safety, noise and nuisances regulations; definitions on violations and resultant penalties; and guidelines for appealing City decisions on short-term rental permits.

Ordinance 23-61 comes as a beginning answer to the question of short-term rentals in relation to the housing crisis that Homer continues to face. The ordinance states that both city council and the public are “very concerned with the impacts of housing availability” for both seasonal workers and residents who remain in the area year-round, and short term rentals are identified as “one of many challenges facing housing availability” in Homer.

“Homer’s housing challenges are significantly more complex than this one issue,” Dumouchel wrote in the memo. “However, short term rentals are clearly a contributor to the lack of availability and affordability in our local housing market.”

The City recognizes, in the draft ordinance, that the use of private residences as short-term rentals is “a very common source of income” that supports both property owners and Homer’s “visitor-serving businesses.”

“Visitors staying in short term rentals have many positive impacts,” the ordinance states. “However, they also consume City services in ways that are difficult to recoup financially when short term rental owners fail to collect existing sales taxes.”

City administrations intends for this ordinance to be the first step by creating “a very basic framework” for regulating short-term rentals.

“We expect this to be an iterative process where a basic code is put in place in 2024,” Dumouchel wrote. “That code should then be reviewed in future years to adjust and fine-tune the short term rental program to best meet the needs of the City and the community.”

Title 5, to which this initial chapter of regulations will be added, covers health and public safety. Dumouchel also noted in his memo that a companion ordinance will be required to add short-term rentals to Title 21, which is zoning and planning, “as a specific use that is either principally or conditionally allowed within specific zone districts.” He recommended that the zoning discussion be led by the Planning Commission, who should then send their recommendations to the city council when complete.

Discussion on the ordinance amongst the council revealed that the city has previously attempted different measures to address the question of short-term rentals within Homer, including contracting a company to locate the rentals around town. However, that attempt was “not particularly successful,” according to council member Donna Aderhold.

“We’ve been talking for almost two years about short-term rentals and the unknown world around them. We’re moving ahead with this ordinance to give us the lay of the land,” Aderhold said at the Nov. 13 meeting. “This is a first-step opportunity to get a sense for who’s out there and have the short-term rentals receive a permit from the city to operate.”

The full ordinance and backup memorandum can be read in full online at

Ordinance 23-61 will return to the council for a second reading and consideration on Feb. 26, 2024.