Growth of Airbnbs leads to push for new regulations

When some five dozen residents of Bowling Green’s Mitchell Heights subdivision showed up at a Warren County Board of Adjustments meeting in May to protest an Airbnb short-term rental in their neighborhood, they were evidence of a growing trend that local officials are trying to address before it reaches the crisis-like proportions seen in Nashville and other large cities.

It seems that the attraction of using either your primary residence or a second home to bring in rental income has become simply too good to resist for many folks.

Airbnb, the largest of the online lodging marketplace websites, reflects that trend. Launched in 2008, Airbnb now offers listings in nearly 200 countries and is projected to reach more than $8 billion in revenue next year.

“Airbnbs and other companies that do a similar thing are becoming very popular,” said Sherry Murphy, executive director of the Bowling Green Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It’s almost a fad mentality.”

The fad hasn’t bypassed Bowling Green.

“About two years ago, we only had about 50 Airbnbs in Bowling Green,” said Ben Peterson, executive director of the City-County Planning Commission of Warren County. “Now we’re close to 200.”

Actually, the website lists 216 rentals in the Bowling Green area, and that doesn’t count those who choose to list their property with VRBO (Vacation Rentals By Owner), Flipkey or other online lodging companies.

“It’s starting to grow here, but it’s not to the point that it’s unmanageable,” Peterson said. “Larger cities have thousands of short-term rentals.”

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