The West Coast may end up with a new district plan with differing rules for Airbnbs in Buller, Grey and Westland because of disagreement.
Councils and iwi working on a new combined plan to cover the whole Coast are at odds over how much control to exert over the short-term accommodation industry.
The issue was a hot-button one for West Coast people who spoke to council representatives at the roadshows last summer to publicise the Tai o Poutini Plan, and complained that Airbnbs were badly affecting some neighbourhoods, and worsening the housing crisis.
But while Buller councillors want to see more regulation, Westland councillors says Airbnbs contribute to the local economy, provide a useful service and should not be too tightly controlled.
The formal feedback on the issue has come mostly from Airbnb owners - 49 of the 56 submitters were owners of short-term visitor accommodation.
The small number of others who provided feedback were all worried about Airbnbs taking residential dwellings out of the owner-occupier and longer-term rental market.
Since October 2020 the number of Airbnbs on the West Coast has dropped by 30 per cent (240 properties) and current occupancy rates are less than 50 per cent, the planners reported.
"Whether these 240 properties have returned to other housing markets, or just been withdrawn from Airbnb listings is not known but is likely related to the decline in tourism in parts of the West Coast."
But by the time the new Te Tai o Poutini Plan comes into effect in three years' time, the numbers were likely to go up again with the expected return of international tourism.
Westland Mayor Bruce Smith said in Hokitika there was no real problem with Airbnbs and they were needed.
"They're all full every winter when Westland Dairy does its maintenance programme -- without this the town's accommodation options would be pretty constrained."
Two other committee members had a less rosy view.
Chairman Rex Williams said there had been a real noise problem with an Airbnb near his home until the neighbours closed it down.
Iwi representative Paul Madgwick said residents who had never asked to have accommodation outlets as next door neighbours, had to put up with the attendant problems.
"Car doors slamming, suitcases being trundled along the footpaths at all hours of the night - and it's having a major effect on long-term rentals, and our housing stock."
Other councils including Christchurch had dealt with the issue in a measured way, by placing restrictions on Airbnbs, recognising that they were intrusive in residential areas, Madgwick said.
"This was the dominant issue raised at our roadshows -- the concerns are pretty widespread."
Buller representative Laura Coll-McLaughlin agreed.
She said there needed to be a clear pathway in the rules that Airbnb owners could follow, but since the committee had last discussed the issue, the drivers of the Coast's housing problems had only got worse.
West Coast Regional Council chairman Allan Birchfield asked if the new combined district plan could allow different rules for different districts.
Principal planner Lois Easton said that would be possible, and could be the best way forward given the differing views. She was tasked with coming back to the August meeting with options for split rules.