Local Governments Across the Nation Respond to Airbnb & Short-Term Rental Challenge

A Sustainable Cities Network article (2018-07-18) highlighted the actions some local governments have taken across the United States in response to the burgeoning growth of Airbnb and similar short-term rental models. Short-term rentals, such as those offered through services like Airbnb, offer both positives and negatives. They can encourage tourism and provide homeowners with extra income, both of which can help a local economy. However, they can also attract commercial investors and when the concentration of short-term rentals reaches a tipping point, actually destabilize residential neighborhoods, reduce long-term rental options, and threaten jobs in the local hospitality industry.

MACo has supported addressing both the regulation and taxation issues posed by short-term rental properties. The Maryland General Assembly has considered legislation on short-term rentals for several years but nothing has passed to date. The article looked at how several local governments in other states have tried to address this challenging and complex issue.

Boston (Massachusetts)

The article focused on the efforts of Boston, which saw a dramatic spike in commercial investors purchasing residential properties to use as short-term rentals starting around 2013. The issue was brought into focus after a coalition of advocacy groups provided research from the University of Massachusetts showing the increasingly negative effects the short-term rental trend was having on the city’s workers and residents.  After being presented with the data, the city’s elected officials took action:

In June 2018, the Boston City Council passed an ordinance eliminating investor unit listings and regulating other short-term residential rentals. It established a registration and data collection system that will allow the city to more effectively monitor the impacts of this industry on its residential housing supply. “At the same time, it continues to allow owner-occupants to rent out extra rooms on AirBnB for as many as 365 days, or their entire home while on vacation,” the ordinance explains.

[Fenway Community Development Corporation representative Colleen] Fitzpatrick says that having data about who owns properties and how they are managed as rentals is a very important piece of the puzzle for city leaders to possess. It would be helpful, but not practical, to access the databases of companies such as AirBnB, which has a very sophisticated registration platform. Without access to information, it can be difficult for communities to move from registration to enforcement.

Fitzpatrick also noted in the article that the purpose of the ordinance was not to eliminate short-term rentals but rather find the balance between allowing short-term rentals and having stable communities and housing/long-term rental options.

Miami Beach (Florida)

The article discussed how Miami Beach has struggled to enforce its short-term rental regulations, which limit the location of short-term rentals based on tourist appeal and neighborhood character. For rentals less than six months and one day, homeowners must: (1) submit an affidavit stating that their home is located in an approved short-term rental area; (2) obtain a business tax receipt and resort tax account; and (3) if part of a condo association, show that the association allows short-term rentals. Single-family homes are prohibited from engaging in short-term rentals. Violations result in the eviction of tenants and fines for the owner starting at $20,000.

Denver, Estes Park, and Larimer County (Colorado)

The article noted that Denver has imposed both regulations and taxes on short-term rentals, which generated $1.1 million in the first eight months of 2017. The property registration rate is estimated at around 70 percent.

Nearby Estes Park and Larimer County jointly developed short-term rental regulations to ensure consistency within their jurisdictions. All short-term rental property owners must register and pay an application fee of $200 plus $50 per bedroom. The joint ordinance: (1) sets caps on rentals within residential zones and limits occupancy to eight people per home unless exempted after a review process; (2) requires the designation of a local representative of property manager to handle complaints; and (3) prohibits employee housing, attainable housing, and accessory dwelling units from being registered.

Walla Walla (Washington)

The city of Walla Walla passed a controversial ordinance that prohibited short-term rentals for properties that were not owner occupied for at least 275 days per year and limited rentals to 29 days at a time. Owners must also register short-term rentals as a business and pay applicable taxes. The article described the controversy surrounding the ordinance and the implementation challenges as many short-term renters could not meet the short timeline for the registration and taxation requirements.

Useful Links

Prior Conduit Street Coverage of Airbnb Issues



Baltimore Holds Hearing on Short-Term Rental Regulation

Hotel industry and short-term rental hosts clash on caps at city hearing on new regulations. 

The Baltimore City Council held a hearing Thursday on a bill that would regulate and tax short-term rentals such as Airbnb.

As reported by The Baltimore Sun:

The nearly 1,300 hosts renting out 2,105 units in Baltimore that generated $11.3 million last year in revenue [sic] not subject to the same taxes applied to hotels — which brought in roughly $30.5 million in taxes in fiscal year 2017.

The bill, introduced by Councilman Eric Costello and Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young, would levy Baltimore’s 9.5 percent hotel tax on short-term rentals, as well as introduce licensing requirements for these properties.

According to the article, the most contentious provisions of the bill involve caps on the number of properties and days hosts can rent out. Under the bill as introduced short-term rentals would generate between $587,000 and $1 million in hotel tax revenues annually. Under amendments to the most contentious provisions they would generate between $1.6 million and $2.2 million under the proposed amendments. The city council will hold another hearing, with hopes of generating a compromise, before moving forward with the bill.

Baltimore City is not alone in trying to address these issues. Montgomery County passed legislation that went into effect July 1, 2018 to regulate short-term rentals. Additionally, MACo supported statewide legislation during the 2018 general session that would have required short-term rental platforms and their hosts to be registered with the Comptroller. The legislation did not pass.

For more information read the full article in The Baltimore Sun

Related coverage from Conduit Street:

Montgomery to Regulate Short-Term Rentals

Short-Term Rental Bill Dies in House Committee

Case Study Depicts Small Cells on the Streets

An infrastructure firm releases a report showing small cell technology and describing how small cells can support neighborhood revival based on their use in Baltimore City.

Crown Castle is an infrastructure provider for small cell technology offered by wireless technology companies, such as AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon. Baltimore City is ahead of other jurisdictions in Maryland implementing small cell technology.

Screenshot 2018-07-16 10.32.07
A small cell installed in Baltimore City, as portrayed in the case study released by Crown Castle.

As described in a recent report by Crown Castle on the Baltimore City experience with small cells, Crown sought to improve coverage and wireless connectivity in theCity:

The economic heartbeat of Maryland, Baltimore is quickly becoming known as a tourist destination that has largely shifted to a new age economy focused on service-oriented industries, such as education, retail, and entertainment. This has caused demand for mobile data to grow exponentially in Baltimore—making faster, more reliable wireless connectivity an essential utility for the city. Crown Castle was brought in to find an infrastructure solution that would bring much-needed coverage and capacity improvements to Baltimore’s wireless ecosystem.

For more information, see the Baltimore_Case Study from Crown Castle and join MACo’s Summer Conference session on small cells:

Title: Surf’s Up! Small Cell Tsunami

Description: The hanging of small cells on new and existing poles affects a range of issues, including business development, rural connectivity, and health concerns. Several counties have already dipped a toe in the water, negotiating directly with providers on zoning and licensing. Hear about 5G technology and what it could mean for Maryland, learn more about the necessary county role, and see a small cell up close at this educational session.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:


Feds Report More Jobs, Slight Increase in Unemployment Across US

The Department of Labor Statistics reports 213,000 jobs gained, and 4% unemployment during the month of June.

William J. Wiatrowski
Acting Commissioner
Bureau of Labor Statistics

As reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics,

Nonfarm payroll employment rose by 213,000 in June, and the
unemployment rate increased to 4.0 percent. Job gains occurred
in professional and business services, manufacturing, and health
care, while retail trade lost jobs.

Incorporating revisions for April and May, which increased
nonfarm payroll employment by 37,000, monthly job gains have
averaged 211,000 over the past 3 months.

For more information, see the Bureau of Labor Statistics Acting Commissioner’s Statement and Economy adds 213K jobs in June, unemployment ticks up to 4 percent from The Hill.

Could Global Factors Slow The Local Solar Boom?

Maryland has seen a rapid growth in both utility-scale and smaller-level solar generation capacity – witnessed by the land use pressures facing many parts of the state (and legislation in recent years to address those continuing pressures). See prior Conduit Street coverage of solar issues for a flavor of this ongoing challenge to local, especially agricultural, land use.

A report on the Bloomberg news site indicates that China’s recent announcement of reduced plans for new solar installations could trigger a contraction in this market, where growth has been strong in recent years:

The global solar market could do something this year that it’s never done before: shrink.

Solar installations in 2018 may total 95 gigawatts, down 3 percent from a year earlier, based on the most conservative of three scenarios modeled by Bloomberg NEF in a report Monday. For comparison’s sake, the typical nuclear reactor has about a gigawatt of capacity.

The forecast, even with its potential call for some retraction, still suggests an overall upward trend, possibly fueled by a decline in price for equipment and materials for installations, also resulting from reduced Chinese demand.

Big Discussions on Small Cells at MACo Symposium

Lead sponsor AT&T offers welcoming remarks.

MACo’s Spring Symposium ‘The Big Picture on Small Cells’ delivered important and timely information on the emerging technology to a full house of local government attendees.  

This year MACo’s spring symposium drew a wall-to-wall and wide ranging crowd of county officials, planners, IT officers, attorneys, government relations staff, and industry experts to discuss small cell technology and local governments role and responsibilities of managing deployment.

Held June 21, 2018 at the Newton White Manor in Prince George’s County participants discussed ways counties can prepare for and manage the deployment of small cells in their jurisdictions. The event was moderated by Mitsuko Herrera, Director of UltraMontgomery.

Andrew Afflerbach
Afflerbach explaining stakeholders involved in small cell technology.

Small Cell 101 and the Race to 5G

The day started with a nuts and bolts presentation about small cells and the oft discussed coming of 5G technology. Topics ranged from the components of a small cell, range and purpose of the services they provide, and how the technology fits in to present and future connectivity concerns.

Panelists included:

  • Andrew Afflerbach, Director of Engineering – CTC Technology and Energy

Small Cells Major Issues Panel
Presenters discussed federal timelines and shot clocks for small cells that counties must meet while managing processes on the local level.

Major Legal Issues

This Q&A style panel walked through important issues and legal considerations counties must consider when it comes to small cells. The panelists answered questions pitched by moderator Mitsuko Herrera and raised by audience members regarding topics including federal laws and shot clocks, the different roles counties play in the transactions and ensuring all the necessary county departments are involved, the various agreements that should be considered and crafted, and working with the expectations of community members.

Panelists included:

  • Gerard Lederer, Partner, BBK Law
  • Victor Tervala, Chief Solicitor, Baltimore City

Success Stories Panel
Speakers highlighted their jurisdictions’ accomplishments managing small cell deployment.

Success Stories

For the afternoon sessions, representatives from counties and municipalities showcased their success stories of devising agreements and/or ordinances and working with the industry to manage the deployment of small cells within their jurisdictions.


Panelists included:

  • Bill Jorch, Manager, Government Relations and Research, Maryland Municipal League (MML)
  • Helen Spinelli, Principal Planner, Queen Anne’s County
  • John Seefried, Bureau of Engineering, Howard County
  • Frank Johnson, Assistant City Attorney, City of Gaithersburg
  • Victor Tervala, Chief Solicitor, Baltimore City

Facilitated Discussion

The day ended with an open forum for audience member to ask any remaining questions they had for the moderator and other attendees in the room.

The event was sponsored by AT&T. Exhibitors included Crown Castle, Shulman Rogers Law Firm and Government Wireless Technology & Communications Association (GWTCA), Smartlink LLC, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless.

Thank you, AT&T, for your continued support of Maryland’s counties!


MACo will discuss small cells again as part of its 2018 Summer Conference Tech Expo. Learn more about “Surf’s Up! Small Cell Tsunami,”  scheduled for Wednesday, August 15, from 11 am – noon.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

Questions? vwhite@mdcounties.org

Montgomery to Regulate Short-Term Rentals

County to regulate short-term rental platforms — Airbnb, Craigslist, FlipKey and HomeAway — and rental property owners. 

Montgomery County’s short-term rental law will go into effect July 1, 2018. Owners who rent their properties or rooms online for less than 30 days will have to register and license their rentals.

A Montgomery County news release explains:

A short-term residential rental is a unit/room in a single-family home, apartment or condominium that is available for a fee for less than 30 consecutive days through online sites such as Airbnb, Craigslist, FlipKey and HomeAway.

Property owners who rent their property, or part of their property, for short-term lodging must also pay the County’s Room Rental and Transient Tax, through the Department of Finance, Division of Treasury, a requirement that went into effect July 1, 2017.

As the news release notes, Montgomery joins the ranks of jurisdictions across the country that require licensing or regulation for the burgeoning industry.

During the 2018 session MACo supported two bills to require short-term rentals, such as Airbnb, and individuals who act as hosts on those platforms to be registered with the Comptroller and regulated. Unfortunately, Senate Bill 1081 did not make it out of committee and House Bill 1604 was given an unfavorable report by the House Economic Matters Committee.

Read the news release for more information.

USDA Tech Transfer Workshop FREE and Open to the Public



The Rural Maryland Council and the Energetics Technology Center are hosting a FREE workshop, the USDA Tech Transfer.


The workshop takes place Wednesday, May 23, 2018, from 8:30 am to 1 pm.


The workshop will be held at:

College of Southern Maryland
Community Education, Room 202
8730 Mitchell Road
La Plata, MD 20646


This event is open to everyone. It focuses on driving business by obtaining more knowledge on technology transfer, the process of transitioning technologies from the research lab to the marketplace.

According to their event page, anyone working with agriculture, aquaculture, horticulture, biology, or a business can benefit from learning how to put US Department of Agriculture discoveries into practice.

Attendees will learn how to license and commercialize USDA intellectual property.



Learn more, check out the agenda, and register for the conference.

Baltimore County Passes “Oscar’s Law” to Protect Pets from Elements

The Baltimore County Council has unanimously passed “Oscar’s Law”, a bill that sets the conditions in which it is unsafe to leave animals outdoors. The bill was introduced following the death of a dog due to hypothermia after being left alone outside.

The Baltimore Sun reports:

Oscar’s Law defines “adverse environmental conditions” that are unsafe for animals to be left outside without shelter, including temperatures below 32 degrees or above 90 degrees, wind, rain, snow, ice, sleet, hail and exposure to direct sunlight or hot pavement. Under those conditions, pets would have to be brought inside within 30 minutes of the onset of those conditions.

Oscar’s Law also clarifies that either an animal control officer or a police officer can investigate animal cruelty cases.

The article notes that County Executive Kevin Kamenetz has announced the creation of a special police department unit that would manage cases of animal abuse.

For more information read:

Baltimore County Council OKs ‘Oscar’s Law,’ outlining unsafe outdoor conditions for animals (The Baltimore Sun)

Round-up of the 2018 Session for Counties

MACo’s legislative efforts earned an 80% success rate – and as usual, the counties’ voice makes a difference in Annapolis. Bills we support are more likely to pass, and bills we oppose are more likely to fail.

2018 Legislative Results Infographic

MACo’s legislative initiatives, priorities, and positions are directed by its Legislative Committee. This body comprises elected representatives from all of MACo’s members – the 24 county jurisdictions (including Baltimore City).

The “one county, one vote” system of deciding the Association’s legislative strategies, ensures that all counties have an equal voice. All 24 jurisdictions participated regularly in the weekly meetings throughout the session – where they also engaged with policy leaders and advocates who joined the meeting to address county leadership.

Our policy staff have compiled updates and results on all of the bills the Legislative Committee decided to take action on this year.

For the 2018 End of Session Wrap-up for each subject MACo covers, click below:

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Assessments and Taxation

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Business Affairs

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Disparity Grants

2018 End of Session Wrap-up: Economic Development Tax Credits

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Education

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Elections

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Employee Benefits & Relations

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Environmental Legislation

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Finance and Procurement

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Government Liability & Courts

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Health & Human Services

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Housing & Community Development

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Intergovernmental Relations *MACo Initiative Area*

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Parks & Recreation

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Pensions

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Planning & Zoning

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Property Taxes

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Public Information & Ethics * MACo Initiative Area *

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Public Safety and Corrections

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Road Funding * MACo Initiative Area *

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: School Construction * MACo Initiative Area *

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: State Budget & Fiscal Affairs

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Tax Sale Bills

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Transportation and Public Works

2018 End of Session Wrap-up: Wynne Tax Bills

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: County Tax Revenues

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Other Tax Bills