Assess the Situation
The easiest way to assess the local landscape with regard to short-term rental regulation is to answer some simple questions about the issue: Is there an existing ordinance that addresses short-term rentals, and what does it say? Are your local policymakers discussing or considering short-term rental regulation, and in what stage of the process is any new regulation?
Has a new ordinance or regulation been proposed or is the city in the "fact gathering" stage?
Has local opposition to short-term rentals emerged, and what does it consist of?
Has local media coverage been favorable or unfavorable?
Are there any policymakers who are clearly supportive of short-term rentals?
Let's talk about how you can gather this information.
First, you'll want to perform a Google search for news that includes your town or municipality and terms such as "short-term rental", "AirBnB", "VRBO","Homeaway" or "vacation rentals," as well as any others that you believe could be relevant. By reading through these stories you should be able to get a fairly good idea of the situation at hand. Next, if you've determined that short-term rentals are presently being addressed by your municipality or that an ordinance governing them already exists, you'll want to proceed to your local government's website and look for any additional information. Often, using the site's search function will point you in the right direction. In the case of new regulations, a search of the site should help you to assemble a rough timeline for the policy-making process. In order to affectively advocate, it's important to note not just what a proposal or recommendation contains, but where it is in the policy-making process and what the remaining steps are before it can become law. Remember, any documents posted on your municipality's website should be searchable, and using search tools, you can quickly locate the language you're looking for through keywords or phrases.
If you aren't getting results you need out of your municipality's website, don't hesitate to pick up the phone and give them a call. Often, placing a simple call, or even dropping by, can be the fastest route to gathering the information you need.