Garden City attempting to shut down Airbnbs

By Alyssa Jackson

Published: Dec. 7, 2022 at 11:38 PM EST

GARDEN CITY, Ga. (WTOC) - Garden City is attempting to shut down Airbnbs with some big fines.

Some are facing notices of $1,000, but the city might not be able to enforce it.

Councilman Richard Lassiter ended Monday’s Garden City Council meeting questioning how they’re enforcing a code against Airbnbs when one doesn’t exist.

“Just be gung-ho and fine them and there’s no ordinance in place or anything stating an Airbnb is prohibited.” District 4 Councilman Richard Lassiter said.

The city’s attorney couldn’t point to any codes that back up the reason for the fine.

“There’s no permitted use for an Airbnbs except for the situation that a resident is renting out their place. They’re allowed to do that in a residential area,” said the city’s attorney Jim Gerard said.

He alluded to the fact that there could be an ordinance coming soon.

“One is being drafted. I wasn’t aware that people were being cited right now for that.

“1,000,” said Councilman Lassiter.

“Now you’ve told me so now I know and will look into that,” said the attorney.

Residents who showed up to the meeting Heather Moore and Jerry Bazemore were given the notice this week.

“I received a knock on my door in the morning and Garden City code enforcement was there with a gun and badge in his hand,” Airbnb Owner Heather Moore said.

There was no deadline on the notice.

“The officer said cease immediately...immediately.”

City officials said to them in an email that the fines were “suspended” but they still needed to remove the listing.

They went on to say they would be “monitoring” or in other words watching the area for compliance.

Moore said: “It’s inexcusable that they put these violation notices out for us to deal with and figure out what’s going on. They left it up to the residents.”

WTOC looked through the city’s ordinances, including the two cited on the notice “occupational tax” and “permitted use”.

It was made clear during the meeting that there are no ordinances against short term vacation rentals, yet residents still have paperwork that says they owe the city.

“It seems to me if you’re taking down a $1,000 fine you have no just cause for a $1000 fine,” said Airbnb Owner Jerry Bazemore.

City officials could not be reached this afternoon for further comment.

Bazemore and Moore have taken their listings down, but haven’t paid the fines.

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