Isle of Palms voters reject restrictions on short-term rentals

ISLAND OF PALM, S.C. (WCSC) – Investor-owned short-term rentals in Isle of Palms will no longer be subject to the cap.

Voters went to the polls Tuesday night where 54% of Isle of Palms voters rejected a referendum that would have capped rents to 1,600. The referendum would not have capped owner-occupied rents.

Discussion about the short-term rent cap began in December 2022 when it was brought up at a special City Council meeting. The pause on new rental licenses was lifted during that meeting by a 5-4 vote.

Isle of Palms had 1,777 short-term rentals in March. Of these, 1,582 were investment rentals and would have been counted towards the maximum rent of 1,600.

Longtime resident Julie Nessler said she voted no because she believes it is ultimately about property rights.

“I don’t think anyone could dictate to me what I might need in terms of my family’s financial situation or anything I might need to do,” Nessler said.

Nestler explained how recent personal experience has shown that short-term rentals are not a want but a need.

“There was a point where there was a possibility that if I needed to, I could rent something off-island, rent my house out for a short-term rental and put my daughter through college and take care of my mother’s assisted living,” Nessler said.

Election results: The final votes are being counted across the Lowcountry

Residents who support the cap were able to muster enough support to put the question to voters.

Mayor Philip Bounds said in April that the city budget includes funding for a short-term rental coordinator and two additional enforcement officers.

Other council members expressed that enforcing traffic laws and noise ordinance rules would preserve the quality of life on the island.

Ashley Carroll won a seat on the Isle of Palms council on Tuesday night, and says this result doesn’t mean something different can’t be crafted in the future. Her hope moving forward is to bring the community back together.

“Obviously it will take some time,” she added. “This was a hot-button issue.”

Digging deeper into the data is also something Carroll wants to achieve.

“We’ve heard all kinds of numbers like 1,800, 1,200, 1,400, so let’s get to the actual number of licenses that we have, not just people who got them out of fear or just in case or whatever the situation is.” Carroll said.

No city officials were available for an interview with Live 5 on Wednesday.

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