Residents, officials wary of Airbnb spreading in Baton Rouge neighborhood
BATON ROUGE - An EBR councilwoman wants to link the parish to a lucrative new industry, but without compromising the character of certain historic neighborhoods.
When the popular home-rental service Airbnb came to town a few months ago, residents in at least one Baton Rouge neighborhood were concerned.
"They recognize that there we some Airbnb's that had located here in their neighborhood and they wanted to have some discussion about the impact it could potentially have on this neighborhood," Councilwoman Tara Wicker said.
Spanish Town, which sits in Wicker's district, is known to be a welcoming place, but maybe not to this new industry.
"One of the things that we definitely don't want is to look up one day and Spanish Town, or other neighborhoods that we've grown to love and enjoy, are places where people no longer can live. It's all commercialized," Wicker said.
The Airbnb app allows homeowners to rent out their space on a nightly basis, much like a hotel. Currently there are 79 listings around Baton Rouge. Only four are directly in Spanish Town.
For such a small neighborhood the impacts are extremely noticeable, especially the lack of parking. But the most important thing Wicker and the residents want to protect is the neighborhood's character.
"It is extremely unique," resident Richard Knox said.
"Making sure the integrity of that neighborhood is protected and we don't have blocks and blocks of the community that become short-term rental," Wicker said.
Some people are more understanding of the new industry though.
"But it's their houses, it's their property. They should be able to do what they want, within the ramifications of the law of course," Knox said.
Wicker wants the ordinance to include parking regulations as well as restrictions on the number of operating Airbnb's in each neighborhood.
She says it's likely the ordinance will apply to the entire parish.