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Citizens, council members discuss new Airbnb regulations

A large number of people at the forum were already Airbnb operators or looking to be soon. (KTUL)

TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) -- Airbnb's are an increasingly popular alternative to hotels and resorts and they are even popping up in Tulsa.

The problem; the city of Tulsa has no regulations over home-share businesses like Airbnb, but that will soon change.

City councilors held a public forum to see what citizens would like to see happen.

A large number of people at the forum were already Airbnb operators or looking to be soon.

"People want to stay in our neighborhoods because they are safe and they are quiet," one woman said.

They say there are pros to short-term rentals. In less than 30 days you might have new neighbors.

"If you do have problems they are gone," soon-to-be Airbnb operator Tim Counts said.

Compared to long-term leases, where sometimes homes can become run down, Counts and his wife Leslie say Airbnb's are bound to bring surrounding property values up.

"You are competing with other people so the properties in the neighborhoods, the ones that are Airbnbs are going to be very nice, so that will bring the value up," Leslie said.

There are already more than 300 homes on the Airbnb site for Tulsa.

Michelle Hartman, president of Metro Tulsa Hotel and Lodging Association, welcomes more competition but wants to the playing field to be level.

"Proper taxes are paid, possibly some sort of health inspection just to protect the consumers," Hartman said. "Hotels have a lot of regulations like that to protect the consumer."

Which is why Councilman Blake Ewing co-hosted today's forum to help create an ordinance that will make it fair and safe for the entire community.

Hartman says she wants to remove apartments from the mix.

"We feel that those are operating as illegal hotels," Hartman said. "They were built as apartments and we feel they should operate as apartments. The hotel world is a whole different thing. It is providing a tourism experience, it is providing hospitality."

Another thing to address; taxes.

"Hotel tax funds tourism for Tulsa, that benefits everyone," Hartman said. "Fifty-one percent of that tax goes directly to Visit Tulsa to market our city and we need those marketing dollars to get the tourists and big groups here."

Some ideas tossed around included adding taxes, city issues licenses and neighbor notification.

Ewing says he wants Airbnb's to take off in Tulsa, but he wants everyone to have a say in how it happens.

Ewing asks neighbors and operators to come forward with concerns and questions before the ordinance is written up.

You can contact him at 918-596-1924 or by email at dist4@tulsacouncil.org

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