Councillors have been exposed to a range of views about locals renting their homes out for short-term stays, even though the subject was not part of the council's annual plan for the coming year.
The issue of homes being rented out under the umbrella of sites such as Air BnB or Book-a-Bach was set down as a "discussion" topic by the Rotorua Lakes Council when it released its annual plan for 2017/18 in April.
However, the topic was picked up on by many people when the council met this week to hear verbal submissions.
The draft plan sees an average rates increase across the district of 3.8 per cent, with the proposed increase coming on top of a 6 to 8 per cent average rise for urban residents in 2015 and a 2 to 2.2 per cent average rise last year.
Rotorua's residential ratepayers are facing a 4.1 per cent average rate increase in the coming year with 0.5 per cent of that factored in to cover losses after the closure of the Rotorua Museum due to earthquake damage.
Submissions to the plan closed on May 12 with 295 received and 41 people asking to be heard in person.
The council also wanted public submissions on proposals for the East Rotoiti/Rotoma sewerage scheme, a move to a 100 per cent targeted rate for waste services, the $6.5 million redevelopment and earthquake strengthening of the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre, among other projects.
At today's submission hearings, Rosalind Hunt said she rented out her home on a seasonal basis on Air BnB and did not think it would be appropriate to charge people extra to rent out their own homes.
She said the flow-on benefits for local tourism operators were significant and people were housing visitors who otherwise would not be able to find commercial accommodation.
She asked the council not to impose any regulations on their use.
However, Hospitality New Zealand regional manager Alan Sciascia argued that people making money off renting homes or rooms to visitors should be treated the same as any other business that did so.
The current bylaw states that if people rent out their home for more than 100 days a year, they would incur commercial charges.
Mr Sciascia said Rotorua had enough commercial accommodation providers to cover the numbers of visitors staying in Rotorua and it was unfair on them.
A large number of submitters were against the council's proposal to upgrade the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre saying the council should go ahead with earthquake strengthening but further upgrades were not necessary.
- Submissions closed May 12
- Verbal submissions heard Tuesday and Wednesday
- Total submissions: 295
- Submitters being heard in person: 41
- Annual plan deliberations June 6 and 7
- Annual plan adopted June 29