The deadline has passed for short-term rental operators in Juneau to register their units or units with the City and Borough of Juneau. Beginning on Sunday those operating without one face a daily $25 fine.
According to CBJ Finance Director Angie Flick, by Sunday the city had received about 230 registrations. That is significantly lower than the estimated 600 active and intermittent listings of short-term rental units the city is basing on a study this spring.
Flick said that number doesn’t necessarily surprise her given the city hasn’t had a clear set of data like this to show the true amount of short-term rentals currently operating in Juneau.
“Who knows how many folks have things set up after the Ironman (Alaska) and it just kind of just sat there with nothing available?” she said. “It’s going to take a few weeks to let the dust settle and try to figure out if there are more active listings out there. There just hasn’t been enough time elapsed to see if we think we’re missing people.”
She said she expects another “handful” of registrations to come in the next few weeks, but “would be shocked if the number doubled.”
The city’s online registration form was originally launched in mid-September, following an ordinance passed in July by the Assembly to require annual registration. It is still open currently for people who may have missed the deadline.
According to the ordinance, the registration requirement — which is cost-free to operators and renewed annually — will not place a limit on the number of dwellings a business or individual can operate. Short-term rentals are described as “a dwelling unit that is rented, leased, or otherwise advertised for occupancy for a period of less than 30 days.”
Discussions about possible registration requirements have been in the works for years. City administrators argue registration will ensure compliance with sales tax and hotel-bed tax requirements, and give a clearer idea of the number of short-term rentals operating currently. Earlier this week a similar ordinance to Juneau’s registration requirement was introduced in Anchorage.
In an interview on Monday, Assembly member Michelle Bonnet Hale said future regulations aren’t out of the question. She said the data from the registrations are crucial for the Assembly to understand how many operators are actually in Juneau and would be impacted if future regulations were put in place.
Hale said it is the Assembly members’ responsibility to balance the need for short-term rentals with the need for more housing in Juneau’s tight market — which is not an easy task.
“We don’t want to make it hard for people to do business, we want to encourage business. But we also need to keep people in Juneau. We don’t want people to leave because they can’t find houses because their long-term rentals just got turned into short-term rentals — and that’s happened a lot,” she said. “I’m hoping we don’t have to go there. But I’m certainly open to that because that’s our job.”
• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at firstname.lastname@example.org or (651) 528-1807.