OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Ocean Springs is considering a new ordinance to regulate short-term rentals, but owners and supporters of vacation rental homes say it violates basic property rights.
The battle over regulation has been going on for about three years. Beth Riley and other short-term rental property owners aren't fighting against, they are fighting for good regulation.
"We've not been trying to fly under the radar," Riley said. "We have not been trying to avoid taxes. We've gone to the city and said, 'We want to pay taxes. We want to be a good citizen. We want regulations, because that raises the standard for others who are going to come in.'"
The latest board of aldermen proposal is not what Riley and the rest of the short-term rental owners had in mind.
Under the proposal, if 25 percent of those living within 300 feet of the property object, the city would not issue a license.
"The real issue is private property rights," Riley said. "This is my private property, which I am maintaining, according to all the laws of Ocean Springs, and it's not right for somebody else, another neighbor, to say I can't do that. There's no appeal for us, and there's no reason necessary. If somebody just says, 'No, I don't like the Rileys,' they can say no."
She doesn't understand why short-term rental properties may likely be held to an even higher standard than long-term rentals.
Her clients are usually professionals or retirees with good incomes.
"The people who stay here spend so much money on restaurants and shops when they come in. These are my third customers who have bought houses here," Riley said. "So, it's good all around for everybody in the city."
The decision is not final and will require another public meeting before the proposal comes up for a vote.
Short-term rental home owners are hoping to change the minds of the aldermen before that happens. If not, they are prepared to file an injunction to stop it.
Neighbor Herbert Beaugez has no problem with the rental, but he does with the newest proposal.
"It think it's ridiculous," Beaugez said. "Because she ought to be able to rent that thing if she wants to."