SOUTH PORTLAND — A city resident has taken out a petition calling for the City Council to repeal regulations approved last week for short-term home rentals such as those offered on the websites Airbnb and HomeAway.

Michael Frabotta, who last spring purchased a four-bedroom, single-family home at 430 Preble St., took out petition paperwork Tuesday at City Hall, said City Clerk Emily Carrington.

Frabotta has until 4:30 p.m. March 12 – 20 days from when the regulations were approved on Feb. 20 – to gather and turn in signatures from at least 1,000 registered South Portland voters, Carrington said.

If the petition is successful, the council will be required to reconsider its vote on the regulations. If the council fails to repeal the regulations, the city will hold a voter referendum on the petition question at the next election.

Frabotta didn’t respond immediately to a request for comment. Carrington said he is a city resident and registered voter.

The council voted 6-1 last week to approve sweeping regulations of short-term rentals that will ban unhosted stays in residential neighborhoods. Short-term rental operators who don’t live on the premises will have a grace period before the city moves to shut them down in September.

City officials hope to stop people from buying, renovating and renting out entire homes to transient guests in a community that’s trying to increase affordable housing and preserve residential neighborhoods.

There are 282 short-term rentals in South Portland, according to a recent count by Host Compliance, a third-party web service. About 200 of them are single-family homes that are not owner-occupied, allowing travelers to rent a whole house or apartment for a few days or a few weeks.

The new ordinance will allow owner-occupied or “hosted home stays” throughout the city, but it will ban from all residential zones any “non-hosted home stays” that don’t have an owner on the premises.

Legal rentals will have to register by April 15 and operate under the new ordinance starting June 1.

Operators who don’t meet the letter of the law will be allowed to honor reservations made by Feb. 6 for home stays through Sept. 15. They will have to swear an oath and sign an affidavit they have a contract for a stay, not simply a booking.

All short-term rentals will have to be registered, inspected, insured and subject to fines and possible closure if they don’t follow the rules. Operators of hosted home stays will have to prove it’s their primary residence by showing they receive the Homestead Exemption on their property taxes.

Homeowners who live in one- to four-unit properties will be able to rent out one room or apartment and host a maximum of two adult guests and a child under age 2. Homeowners with multiple units will be required to notify potential tenants if one of the apartments is used for short-term rentals.

When registering with the city clerk, operators also will have to show proof of property and liability insurance, sketch plans for parking and building layout, a completed self-inspection checklist and emergency contact information, among other requirements.

Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

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