Knoxville homeowners concerned about Airbnbs in their neighborhood

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Homeowners in Knoxville are concerned about short-term rentals, like Airbnb, coming to their neighborhoods after the city wrote a proposal to make them legal. That proposal comes with restrictions.

Don Parnell and his wife live in a quiet neighborhood in Bearden. They moved here more than 40 years ago. Now, they are worried about some unwelcome guests.

“This is ignoring the city zoning ordinance,” said Parnell.

The ordinance written by the City of Knoxville says people can rent out their homes in a residential area. This makes Parnell and his neighbors worried about their safety and the rentals becoming a nuisance.

“We don’t know how they would be vetted. How do they find out who it is and what their background might be,” Parnell said.

“I get your concern, but I don’t think it is founded in logic. I think it is founded in fear,” said Natalie Nordstrom.

Nordstrom rents out a duplex in a neighborhood near downtown. She’s never heard any complaints from neighbors. She said this rental is a positive addition to the area.

“You bring in different people from different areas, from different backgrounds, and from different countries. They really help a community to grow,” she said.

She’s finding so much success with Airbnb, this is now her business¬† She said her occupancy rate is over 80 percent all year. However, Parnell feels these rentals do not belong in neighborhoods.

“There are plenty of office zones, plenty of commercial zones that have rental use,” he said.

He hoped the city answers questions before moving forward with this proposal. People will have an opportunity to address their concerns at a public forum this Thursday at 5:30 p.m. in the assembly room of the City County Building.

Nordstrom also had concerns about the city’s proposal. Right now, it says if someone wants to rent out a property in a residential neighborhood, it must be the renter’s primary residence. That means Nordstrom would not be able to put her property on Airbnb. She said she would lose her business if that portion of the ordinance is approved.

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