Reston, VA

Thursday Morning Notes


Airbnb Cancels Area Reservations — “Airbnb says it is cancelling bookings for next week in the D.C. area, in response to threats of violence during the Inauguration week.” [ARLnow]

FCPS Announces Vaccine Schedule — “The COVID-19 vaccine will be administered to FCPS staff via Inova Health System, in partnership with the Fairfax County Health Department (FCHD), starting this Saturday, January 16, 2021. All FCPS employees will have access to the COVID-19 vaccine as a part of the Virginia Department of Health 1b group of other essential workers.” [FCPS]

Lane Closures Planned on Dulles Toll Road — “Beginning on or about Thursday, Jan. 14,  at 10 p.m. to Friday, Jan. 15, at 5 a.m., Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project (DCMP) crews will be performing pedestrian bridge utility work along the eastbound Dulles Toll Road (DTR) requiring the full closure of three left lanes beginning at mile marker 1.6 on the west end of Innovation Station and continuing to mile marker 5.0 on the east end of Reston Station.” [Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project]

Photo by Marjorie Copson

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Property owners who rent their sites through short-term rentals like Airbnb and VRBO must follow new regulations effective Feb. 1.

Property owners in the Town of Herndon must register with Fairfax County and pay $200 to receive a two-year permit to operate the rental. The Town of Herndon’s regulations, which were approved by council members earlier this month, are similar to legislation adopted by Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors this year. Discussions have been underway since June 2018 in the town.

In order to receive the permit, sites will be inspected. A $500 fee is charged for failing to register. Owners must live at the location for at least seven months, provide proof of residency, and provide notice to homeowners associations.

Homes can be rented out for a maximum of 90 nights — 30 more nights that the cap set by Fairfax County. A maximum of six adults under one contract can use the sites. A single rental period must be less than 30 days.

The town council also set operational requirements, including the prohibition of events, the presence of a fire extinguisher, and dedicated parking spaces.

The Town of Herndon’s short-term rental application is available online.

Photo via Airbnb

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Renewed discussions are underway on how to regulate Airbnb-style rentals in the Town of Herndon following an unsuccessful legal challenge by residents to Fairfax County’s recently established regulations.

The Herndon Planning Commission took up the issue at a work session on Monday (April 8). If approved, the new zoning ordinance would require residential property owners seeking to rent out their homes to limit guests to six adults for terms of no longer than 90 days. A $200 zoning permit, valid for two years, and an associated inspection will be required before property owners can operate a short-term rental.

Town officials first considered ways to regulate short-term rentals late last year. The commission directed zoning staff to research best practices regarding regulations and monitor the legal challenge to Fairfax County’s zoning ordinance, which is similar to the town’s proposal.

In the latest draft, zoning staff removed a condition requiring residential property owners to maintain a guest log. The new proposal also defines who constitutes a permanent resident, according to David Stromberg, the town’s zoning administrator. The draft also stipulates the following:

  • Operators must provide proof of permanent residency.
  • Events like weddings, concerts, parties and banquets associated with a short-term rental are prohibited.
  • Operators must provide two off-street parking spaces. The county’s ordinance requires one off-street parking space.
  • Recreational vehicles are not allowed.
  • One rental contract is allowed per night.
  • There is no limit on the number of nights where a portion of the unit can be rented if the primary resident is present.
  • Operators must provide safety equipment like smoke alarms, fire extinguishers and carbon monoxide detectors.

Late last year, 36 Fairfax County residents sued the county for overreaching its authority on regulating short-term lodging rentals. The county’s motion to dismiss was granted, although the plaintiffs can come back to the court with an amended petition, according to town officials.

Efforts to regulate the burgeoning industry were set into motion two years ago when the state’s General Assembly approved legislation allowing localities to regulate short-term rentals. Permit fees and the maximum number of nights allowed per unit vary across jurisdictions. Arlington County sets a limit of 180 nights and has a $63 permit for one year whereas Loudoun County allows unlimited nights and requires no permits.

Photo via Airbnb

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In an effort to break its silence on regulating short-term rentals through websites like Airbnb, Town of Herndon officials are contemplating ways to regulate the growing market, which often pits homeowners seeking to make a profit against neighbors seeking to control noise and maintain safety.

The town’s planning commission is considering a zoning ordinance change that would allow residents to rent out their entire home for up to 90 days per year, so long as occupants are limited to six adults and parking is available. In return, residents must buy a $200 permit, which is active for two years, and undergo a property inspection. No restrictions on renting a room or portion of the property are imposed so long as the operator lives in the residence.

Efforts to regulate the burgeoning industry were set into motion last year when the state’s General Assembly approved legislation allowing localities to regulate short-term rentals. Just last week, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved its own set of regulations. After feedback from the public, the board made its regulations more restrictive by scaling back its definition of short-term rentals from a maximum of 90 days to 60 days.

Preliminary conversations about ways to oversee short-term rentals have begun at Reston Association. However, no formal plans or guidelines have been introduced yet.

The Town of Herndon’s proposal was modeled after Fairfax County’s plan, David Stromberg, the town’s zoning administrator told Reston Now. Yesterday’s public hearing on the proposal will continue during the planning commission’s September meeting. Changes may be proposed based on feedback from the public, he said.

“Nothing has been on the books. We’re trying to do regulations appropriately so that people who are doing short-term rentals can get their permits,” Stromberg said. “And if there are problems, we can do enforcement if necessary.”

It’s unclear how much revenue permits could generate for the town. Other area jurisdictions like Arlington County limited short-term rentals to 180 days while Alexandria has no limit.

Photo via Airbnb

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Monday Morning Notes

Airbnb no longer up in the air — If you’re looking to make your place into an Airbnb, you might have to buy a $200 two-year permit to rent out your house for up to 60 days a year. [The Washington Post]

Lifeguards sought at Reston Community Center — Positions are open at the center for water safety instructors and lifeguards. The positions pay between $11 to $20.77 an hour.  [Reston Community Center]

Drawing class tonight — Reston Regional Library is hosting a class on how to draw your favorite cartoon. The event is open to attendees between the age of 10 and 18. [Reston Regional Library]

Nearby: Overnight shooting — Two juveniles were shot Sunday night in McLean. One of the victims died and another remains in the hospital. [WTOP]

Flickr pool photo by vantagehill

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It’s not just Amazon — Apple is considering Northern Virginia for 20,000 jobs, in what could be the company third major U.S. hub. The governor pitched three sites: Tysons Corner, Loudoun and Crystal City. [The Washington Post]

What’s coming to your neighborhood — Zoning changes are afoot, including plans to expand areas where community gardens are allowed and how Airbnb and other short-term lodging options are regulated. Informational sessions are planned in the coming weeks. [Fairfax County Government]

Member Services closed for part of the day — Reston Association’s member services department will be closed today from 1 to 2:30 p.m. to allow staff to attend a session by local police about workplace violence. [Reston Association]

Flickr pool photo by vantagehill

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As Fairfax County considers developing regulations to govern the use of short-term rentals (e.g., Airbnb), three community meetings — including one in Reston — have been scheduled to gather community input.

The community meeting in Reston will be held Tuesday, Sept. 5, at 7 p.m. at the North County Governmental Center (1801 Cameron Glen Drive). Additional meetings are slated for Alexandria on Sept. 13 and McLean on Sept. 25.

Community members are also invited to submit their input in an online survey, which is available through the end of August.

Currently in Fairfax County, short-term rentals — properties rented for less than 30 days at a time — are only allowed with approval of a special exception by the Board of Supervisors to classify a home as a bed and breakfast. In Reston, where residents must follow county laws related to the practice, short-term rentals have been the source of debate. Most recently, at the May meeting of the Reston Association Board of Directors, short-term rentals at a home on Trails Edge Lane were the topic of controversy.

At that meeting, the Board decided to consider amending its governing documents to clarify the RA’s position on homesharing, to strengthen its standing in the effort to stop violations of county rules.

This county’s proposed zoning rules for short-term rentals may address issues including where the rentals will be allowed in the county, how often they can be rented out, what types of properties can be rented out, and how many people will be allowed to stay in a property at any one time.

According to information provided by the county:

The county is considering the regulations as a result of new state law passed this year that allows localities to require registration of short-term rentals. The Board of Supervisors directed county staff to initiate an analysis of STRs and propose draft zoning regulations.

Ultimately, the board will decide whether to adopt the new rules, and both the Planning Commission and board will hold public hearings on the zoning rules before any action is taken. No public hearing dates have been scheduled at this time. Any additional meetings and the future public hearing dates will be posted on the short-term rental webpage.

To get more information or to offer feedback, contact the county’s Zoning Ordinance Administration Division by email or call 703-324-1314.

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Friday Morning Notes

Hook Road Project Info Session  Anyone interested in learning about the Hook Road Recreation Area project and the forming of a working group may attend an information session on Tuesday, Aug. 29 at 6:30 p.m. at Reston Association headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive). Email [email protected] for more about serving on the working group. [Reston Association]

Third Outreach Session on Bikeshare Announced — The Virginia Department of Transportation has announced a third public outreach event to gather community input on the proposed sites for Capital Bikeshare expansion in Reston. It will be Saturday, Aug. 26 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Reston Farmers Market. [VDOT]

Aquatics Center To Close for Annual Maintenance — The Terry L. Smith Aquatics Center at Reston Community Center (2310 Colts Neck Road) will be closed from Aug. 19 to Sept. 15. It is scheduled to reopen at noon Sept. 16. [Reston Community Center]

County Short-Term Rental Survey Ongoing — Fairfax County is developing regulations to govern the use of short-term rentals (e.g., Airbnb). It is gathering community input through Aug. 31. [Fairfax County/Survey Monkey]

Column: Virginia Should Not Pay for ‘Skins Stadium — Regular ARLnow columnist Peter Rousselot wrote this week about how the costs of bringing a new Washington Redskins home field to Virginia would far outweigh the benefits for taxpayers. [ARLnow]

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It’s late at night and a resident pulls into their cul-de-sac after a long evening at work. Once they turn into their street, they find their block crowded for the umpteenth time with unfamiliar cars, followed by a new group of people temporarily staying in their neighbor’s home for a couple of days.

How would you react?

The scenario above describes the situation that has been increasingly reported throughout Reston, as more residents have begun to rent out their homes for profit over short periods of time through services such as Airbnb, Homeaway and Roomarama.

Fairfax County is currently in the process of developing stricter regulations for residents who wish to rent out their homes through such services. The County is looking for feedback on what residents think about the proposed regulations.

As of July 1, Virginia state law will give local governments the authority to require registration for these rentals.

According to the survey, the proposal would address:

  • Where these rentals would be allowed in the county
  • How often they could be rented out
  • What types of properties could be rented out
  • How many people would be allowed to stay in a property at any one time

If you’d be interested in participating in the survey, fill it out here.

Reston Association is making efforts to clamp down on those whose rental habits might be a disturbance to their neighbors. Currently, following County legislation, only those who own single-family homes are allowed to rent their space for less than 30 days.

At a community feedback meeting at Reston Association headquarters Wednesday evening, the home-sharing issue was named as a challenge RA will face going forward.

“I view this as one of the greatest threats to the way we live here in Reston,” said Rick Hamilton, of the Polo Fields cluster. “From the description of what goes on in the one [discussed at the May 26 RA meeting], that is frightening.”

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At Thursday night’s meeting, the Reston Association Board of Directors voted to explore amending the association’s covenants to clarify and strengthen rules surrounding whether residents are permitted to rent out their homes temporarily to visitors, such as through sites like Airbnb.com.

Airbnb has become a hot topic throughout Fairfax County over the past year. County officials have sought to remind residents of the laws regarding short-term rentals of less than 30 days. Special permits must be obtained for operating one’s home much like a bed and breakfast, and for the most part, only single-family homes are allowed to do so, and not attached homes such as apartments, condos or townhomes.

Reston Association has previously mandated that, as part of the county, residents follow the county laws. However, the RA has been receiving some complaints about residents that have been renting out their homes on Airbnb anyway.

In particular, several letters have been received about a home on Trails Edge Lane. Complaints have alleged that not only have the owners been renting out parts of the home for as little as one day–at rates as low as $28 per night–but they have been exceeding maximum safe occupancy limits, sometimes putting multiple renters to a room, and renting out three to four rooms in a single home at the same time.

According to RA documents, the current owners purchased the home in question in January of 2016, and the complaints began just a few months later.

At first, documents indicate RA staff spoke with the homeowners, who agreed to abide by the county’s rules and only rent out the home for periods of longer than 30 days, which would not violate the county’s rules against “short-term” rentals. Read More

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