STR applicants start submitting documents


The City of Hot Springs said Friday that 40 applications for short-term residential rental business licenses have been submitted since the application window reopened on Tuesday.

Applications are submitted through the short-term rental portal on the city’s website, where applicants provide the information required by the 12-page STR regulatory order passed in May by the Hot Springs Board of Directors.

Deputy City Manager Lance Spicer said the city has been working with Granicus for eight months to tailor the company’s host compliance platform to the city’s needs.

The software operates vacation rental booking sites such as Vrbo and Airbnb and is used by local governments to manage their STR application and compliance processes. Payments for the annual STR license fee are also made through the portal. Charges are based on a STR’s maximum overnight occupancy, which, according to the regulatory ordinance, is two per room plus two, meaning a three-bedroom STR can accommodate up to eight occupants. for the night. The fees are $ 50 per occupant.

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“It’s a simple and straightforward application process,” Spicer said. “It goes screen by screen. You can do this on mobile devices and desktops. It has the same feel and functionality. Some of the people who participated in submitting the nomination were laudatory, saying that the portal is easy to use, which is what we were looking for. “

Spicer said requests submitted through Friday morning were for STRs in areas zoned for commercial purposes. There is no cap on STRs in commercial areas and no requirement to obtain a special use permit from the Planning and Development Department.

The regulatory ordinance caps STRs in the city’s five residential areas at 500 per year and requires those applicants to obtain a Special Use Permit, a new licensing process the city has created specifically for STRs. Spicer said city planning staff would begin reviewing special use permit applications on Jan.21.

STR owners who received a business license before the seven-month moratorium on accepting applications that came into effect at the end of May last year are exempt from obtaining a special use permit. , provided they renew their license before May 1st. This is the date that the 585 licenses issued last year will expire.

“No one at this point has a special use permit,” Spicer said. “On January 21, we’ll have their first review. Hopefully we can have a good batch of applicants and can transfer some of these new licenses.”

Spicer said obtaining a certificate of occupancy certifying that a property complies with building and fire codes is the first step in the application process. The city has received 209 requests for CO inspections since it began accepting inspection forms on December 1, with 74 inspections completed. CO inspection forms are also available on the City’s website. The inspection fee is $ 50.

“The main thing people try to do is this CO inspection form,” Spicer said. “That’s what they have to do to apply. If they got one last year, they just need to provide proof that they had it inspected last year. Then they go to the city’s website and apply. “

The city issued 325 STR licenses in residential areas last year. It initially limits new applicants in residential areas to 150, so as not to exceed the annual ceiling of 500.

“This is why we are waiting and seeing the residential areas, so we are not taking too many applications and have no licenses to give,” said Spicer. “We need to keep in mind that May 1 (renewal) deadline for these existing short term rental licenses. They need to get them ASAP so that we can move them forward in the process and have good cut-off numbers. ceiling. “

Licenses issued last year are concentrated in areas adjacent to Lake Hamilton that the city annexed in 2016 and 2018, neighborhoods near Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort, the Quapaw-Prospect area and Park Avenue. Their locations are plotted on the city’s GIS map.

The city manager, District 1, which includes the areas of Park and Whittington, has 93 STRs in residential areas, most of the six districts. District 4 in the southwestern part of town has 87, and District 5 in south-central Hot Springs has 62.


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