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Meetings begin tonight on proposed zoning changes for Airbnb-style home rentals and secondary suites

An example of an accessory dwelling unit, defined as a small attached or detached dwelling located on the same lot as a residence. (Images of the City of Richmond)

City-initiated zoning changes regarding short-term home rentals, secondary suites and minimum parking requirements are the focus of a series of community meetings beginning tonight at the Richmond Main Library.

The meetings are the first of two series of public engagements that planners are undertaking to share and shape zoning proposals and gather feedback. Formal proposals are to be shared in a second outreach round, tentatively scheduled for October.

After years of work, the zoning changes follow recommendations included in the city’s master plan and requests from city council members. The changes related to short-term home rentals, or STRs, fulfill a process launched in January to revise Richmond’s rules to regulate Airbnb-style rentals, which the city mostly considers non-compliant and illegal.

In January, the Richmond Planning Commission approved a resolution of intent to change rules and revise some regulations, including a primary residence requirement in which operators must reside at the rented property for at least half of the year. year.

The commission was due to review the changes to the rules last summer, having adopted them in mid-2020 with the caveat that they would be reviewed after a year to examine their effectiveness. COVID and personnel changes within the planning department contributed to the delay in the process.

Secondary suites, or ADUs, have been under discussion since late 2019, when the commission asked staff to study the suitability and feasibility of smaller attached or detached units located on the same lot as a residence. .

A map of identified short-term home rentals in the city shows the greatest concentrations in the Fan and Museum neighborhoods, the Jackson and Monroe neighborhoods, Church Hill and Shockoe.

Also known as accessory apartments, secondary suites or “grandmother’s apartments”, ADUs are considered to allow people to age in place, accommodate people with special needs, create low-cost housing and offer residents with rental opportunities to supplement their income.

The city’s master plan, passed in late 2020, recommends updating the city’s zoning ordinance to allow ADUs as of right with form-based requirements in all residential areas to encourage more types of housing in the city. The plan identifies ADUs as a primary use in areas of the city recommended for residential or neighborhood mixed use.

The changes to the parking requirements stem from a request from council member Andreas Addison in mid-2020 which gained support from some of his council colleagues.

Addison’s application requested a study to determine whether the zoning ordinance should be amended to eliminate or reduce parking minimums and restrictions in commercial use areas and in transit-oriented Nodal District TOD-1 areas. , which encourages development designed around transit rather than more “self-centered” approaches.

Eliminating parking minimums in these areas is also seen as facilitating development in urban cores where required parking could impede investment and contradict density and walkability goals.

Tonight’s in-person meeting begins at 6 p.m. at the Main Library at 101 E. Franklin St. A virtual meeting is scheduled for noon Wednesday, and two telephone town halls – a new meeting format for the city entirely by telephone – are scheduled for 6 p.m. on August 16 and noon on August 17.

Links to virtual and telephone meetings are available on the city websitewhere more information about zoning changes is also displayed.