By Conrad Dudderar
A permit to operate a short-term rental has been rejected by a Yukon advisory board.
Longtime homeowners said they’d sell their homes and move rather than continue dealing with problems they said have plagued their neighborhood.
The Yukon Planning Commission, at its Monday night meeting, voted unanimously to recommend denial of Gloria Hernandez’s request for a special use permit. The applicant may appeal the denial to a higher authority – the city council.
Hernandez owns what neighbors have referred to as a “party” house with a pool in the 200 block E Meade in the Parkland Heights II Addition.
Many complaints have been lodged with police and city officials about the property, which has been rented as an Airbnb over the past two years.
A list of Yukon police calls between August 2022 and this October was included in a city planning staff report.
The Yukon City Council on Aug. 3 adopted the Yukon Unified Development Code.
The 147-page document includes a section that specifically regulates short-term rentals – commonly referred to as Airbnb or Vrbo online vacation rentals.
Operators now must obtain a special use permit and short-term rental license from the City of Yukon. Violators are subject to stiff fines and face revocation of the required permits and licenses.
Doug Elledge, who lives next door on E Meade, refuted language in the special use permit application that indicated the house was rented as an Airbnb “a couple days a month” mostly for family gatherings.
“I can attest, up until about a month ago, it was rented basically four, five, six nights a week,” Elledge told planning commissioners.
An ad posting for this property on the Airbnb site describes a “two story roomy house” for eight guests with a heated, outdoor pool.
“If you look at the reviews … you can see it’s rented more than a few times a month,” Elledge emphasized.
Linda Elledge said if she wanted to live next to a hotel she would have moved by a hotel. She referred to the “nonsense” that occurs at the house.
“There are parties that go on there all the time,” she said. “Our patio is next to their patio. We hear everything that goes on.”
Elledge said she believes drugs have been thrown into her yard by people staying at this Airbnb.
“There was a time there were 19 cars out there,” she added. “We couldn’t even get our car out of the driveway or in the driveway.
“I’ve been threatened by three big people that came over into our yard. I don’t like that. I’ve tried to be nice.”
The Elledges have lived there for 44 years.
“It’s a great neighborhood. It’s close to a school,” Linda Elledge pointed out. “I know there’s been drugs dealt out of that house.”
The Hernandez family does not see everything that happens there and has “no clue” how many people come in and out of the house, she added.
On prom and graduation nights, Elledge said “kids Uber-ed in by the dozens.”
She absolutely hates living next to an Airbnb: “The parties have gone from that backyard, into the garage, out into the front yard. … We fought it for two years. I’m sick of it.”
Otis Davenport, of E Platt Drive, listed complaints about the Airbnb:
- Parking hazards on the road that restrict emergency vehicle access.
- “Beyond extreme” noise levels that “rattle our windows.”
- Safety issues with the pool, which is not properly maintained.
- Commercial-grade lights that overcast into “at least” three or four yards.”
• Excessive occupancy with “up to 20 to 30 people there at one time.”
Davenport, who has lived there for nearly 30 years, asked Yukon city officials to notify him and his neighbors at least six months before approving “a bunch of Airbnbs through our neighborhood” so they could list their houses for sale.
“Because I believe the value of our houses is going to go down,” Davenport said. “Even though I’ve lived there 30 years, I would sell – and I would move. I just want to get a fair price for my house.”
Janie Thompson, of E Meade Drive, referred to the difficulty of “getting down the street” to visit her children in the adjacent Stone Mill Addition due to traffic congestion around the short-term rental property.
“It’s a neighborhood,” Thompson said. “It’s not an area of business. It’s not zoned for business. And that’s what an Airbnb is.
“I feel bad that the people around the house have had to ‘fight the fight’, but it’s not just affecting them. It’s affecting everybody on the street, the street behind them. In the long run, those of us who have invested in that neighborhood to be our retirement homes, it has a bigger impact on us.”
Airbnb operator Wendy Hernandez believes she and her mother are being treated unfairly.
She contended that the problems began after neighbors had asked permission to swim and use the pool.
“After it was denied, that’s when everything (the complaints) had started,” Wendy Hernandez told planning commissioners. “So, I really believe that it’s something personal.
“It has got to the point that we’re being harassed because not even my mom can go into the house or I cannot even go into the house or another family member coming to visit, without the police showing up and ticketing my mom. She’s getting fines, and it’s her own house.”
The permit applicant’s daughter said the “rules of the house” were changed after complaints about parties at her Airbnb on E Meade.
Pointing out there are security cameras on the property, Hernandez said she wants to see any proof that drugs are being used at the house and thrown into the neighbor’s yard.
The Airbnb operator also denied fault for an incident in which a child nearly drowned in the pool – saying the people staying at the house were responsible.
In October, Yukon Police issued a citation to the E Meade Drive property owner for advertising a short-term rental without a permit on the Airbnb website – in violation of city code.
Wendy Hernandez also admitted that on Nov. 1 she removed a sign Yukon city staff had posted on the property to notify the public about the short-term rental special use permit application.
“I’m feeling harassed to the point they’re putting signs in my property,” she said. “We were never told they were going to do that.”
She refused to comply with city staff’s order to place the sign back up Nov. 3. A property subject to a special use permit request is supposed to be posted for 20 days before the hearing.
Yukon assistant planning director Danielle O’Neal said several short-term rental operators have applied for special use permits.
None have been approved “to date” – but Yukon’s new city ordinance did not take effect until August, she noted.
City staff is monitoring whether permit applicants are improperly advertising short-term rentals on Airbnb or Vrbo.
“We check them daily,” O’Neal told planning commissioners. “We’ve notified several of them multiple times (by letter) following the same process that we have on the Meade property.
“We give them a total of 60 days to comply. If they don’t, that’s when we start discussing having tickets issued.”
Even if the E Meade house isn’t rented as an Airbnb, Wendy Hernandez claimed that the pool would be.
“They cannot rent out the pool by itself,” O’Neal said in response. “Just to clarify.”
THEY HAVE ‘NO CLUE’
Linda Elledge said she likes the Hernandez family and “it’s nothing against these nice people.”
But she reiterated they have “no clue” who comes into their house and what goes on after midnight when it’s rented as an Airbnb.
“We’re not on a witch hunt here; we just want to live in a nice, clean neighborhood,” Elledge added. “We don’t care if their family comes and has a party over there. Everybody has parties in their backyard.
“But they wouldn’t do it on an everyday, every night basis. Night after night after night. … weekend after weekend. We’re sick of it. And if we have to sell our house and go elsewhere, we will. It’s not fair to us.”
Yukon Planning commissioner Nick Grba made the motion to recommend denial of the special use permit for the E Meade property. That motion passed by a 4-0 vote.