A 3000-signature petition protesting plans to limit rental nights in New Plymouth short stays has been presented to the local council.
The petition adds to a growing backlash against the inclusion of the 90-day cap in the New Plymouth District Council’s draft district plan – a policy described by Bookabach as “arbitrary, unenforceable and unnecessary”.
Locals packed a meeting to discuss the implications of the cap last month, with Jo Bourke, co-owner of local holiday home management company Bach Break, leading the charge against the visitor accommodation cap.
The proposed changes also include limiting to ten the number of guests allowed to stay on property, no more than 22 vehicle movements in 24 hours between visitors and residents, and no more than eight vehicle movements an hour between visitors and residents.
The council says the regulations would only apply to accommodation without resource consent and are designed to manage noise, traffic and parking issues.
Hoteliers and moteliers in the district have welcomed efforts to address what they see the rise of quasi-hotels being run without any of the restrictions faced by commercial operators. Beach Street Motel Apartments owner Deb Tawa told Stuff there are 378 entire homes listed in New Plymouth on Airbnb, more than 200 of them turning over more than $20,000 a year.
But Bourke told protesters this week: “If this rule gets past it will put community harmony at risk and impact severely on tourism, it will take away people’s property rights and will cost local jobs.
“New Plymouth has one of the highest unemployment rates, six percent, the average national unemployment is 4.2 percent. With the challenges confronting the dairy industry and oil and gas industry, more than ever New Plymouth needs tourism.
“The private accommodation industry should not be seen as a disrupter but an important part of New Plymouth’s tourism future.”
Expedia-owned rental platform Bookabach has urged the council to ditch its plans for a cap and instead advocates a national regulatory solution for the sector.
It is a position supported by Hospitality New Zealand chief operating officer Julie White, who told AccomNews earlier this year: “The time has come to impose meaningful regulations on the sharing economy.
“We now need a well thought out, sustainable, centralised strategy for managing this issue across the country.”
Bookabach corporate affairs director Eacham Curry says the regulations need a “re-think”.
“Bookabach understands the desire for action by local governments, however night caps and arbitrary restrictions will fail to resolve the most commonly cited questions about holiday rental accommodation,” he said.
“Night caps and other use restrictions for holiday rentals will fail to make any meaningful improvement to community amenity. These blunt instruments will only serve to drive up the cost of holiday accommodation and, ultimately, send valuable tourism dollars to other parts of the country.
“Rather than local council restrictions, Bookabach advocates for national regulation that contains a simple registration scheme for all holiday rental listings, a code of conduct that is backed by a strikes-based disciplinary regime, and an industry body to adjudicate compliance with the code of conduct.”
There are some 300 New Plymouth listings on Airbnb and around 200 on Bookabach.
The submissions period for the draft district plan closed last Friday, with the council now summarising the feedback before calling for further submissions in early 2020 over the next stage of a lengthy consultation process.