Gardendale Planning Commission Recommends Ban – Does It Go Far Enough?

At the May 11th meeting of the Gardendale Planning & Zoning Commission, there was a packed room full of residents there to voice concerns for and against the proposed ban on short-term rentals in residential zones within Gardendale. While some have called this Airbnb rentals, it is actually any rental under 30-days within a residential zoned area.

Those opposing the ban were mostly owners of homes currently being rented short-term that would be effected by the ban.

As it turns out, they didn’t have to be overly concerned, as the Commission voted to send the issue to the Gardendale City Council with a “favorable recommendation” to approve amending the ordinances to ban any new short-terms rentals in residential zones. Those currently operating short-term rental homes would be allowed to continue operating them as such. Some loosely call that “grandfathering” in.

Someone at the meeting stated there were 10 homes currently being operated as short-term rentals in the meeting and no members of the commission or anyone with the City of Gardendale in attendance refuted that number.

The Herald was told by the City that it “can’t verify that number.”

So is the number 10 or 5 or 20?

We don’t know. We can’t say.

But what we can say is that those that the City will officially consider “non-conforming lawful properties,” will have a monopoly on short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods in Gardendale.

Here is a part of the drafted ordinance that will sit in front of the City Council as supplied to the Herald by public records request. Please note that it is a part of the overall proposed ordinance 2023-004 to establish “Short Term Rental Regulations” and is a draft only. This has yet to be voted on by the Gardendale City Council.

a. Scope, findings, and purpose.

1. This Section applies to all Rentals of Short-term Rental Units within the
city. Nothing in this Section affects the right of the city to impose or collect other
applicable fees, charges, or penalties or take other appropriate action to remedy a
violation of other ordinances or laws. The mayor and/or his designee has the
authority to promulgate and adopt policies to carry out the provisions of this

2. The city is committed to maintaining and preserving the quality of its
residential character, the housing stock and existing communities, scenic beauty,
and the natural resources that are the foundation of its economic strength and
quality of life.

3. The Rental of single-family homes in residential zoning districts for
temporary occupancy has been identified as a community concern due to the
potential for increased traffic, noise, high occupant turnover, and density in
residential districts and has the potential to create a danger to the health and safety
of the residential neighborhood, nearby residential properties, and neighborhood

4. The purpose of this Section is to safeguard the peace, safety and general
welfare of the residents of the city, and their visitors and guests, by eliminating
noise, vandalism, overcrowding, neighborhood uncertainty, high occupancy
turnover, diminution of neighborhood character, and other effects that have become
associated with Short-term Rental Units within the city.

5. The restrictions established in this Section are necessary to protect the
public health, safety and welfare of the residents of the city and the integrity and
residential character of the city’s residential zoning districts.

We are struck by the language in the draft above. Numbers 3 through 5 make it abundantly clear that the Gardendale Planning & Zoning Commission members see short-term rentals as being bad for Gardendale and they are “public health, safety and welfare” concerns for all its citizens.

We at the Herald are not arguing for or against the ban. We are simply curious as to the unequivocal language above in the draft and have a simple question…

If short-term rentals are such a danger for Gardendale residential neighborhoods, then how can any be allowed to operate?

What about the homeowners in the residential areas where those allowed to continue to operate now live, have invested in and are raising their children in? Does their “public health, safety and welfare” matter?

That decision will soon be in the hands of the Gardendale City Council.