SOUTH PORTLAND — A resident took out a petition Friday calling for the City Council to repeal or send to referendum controversial short-term rental ordinances that were approved Tuesday.

It’s the second time that Michael Frabotta of Preble Street has set out to challenge the council’s efforts to regulate the popular room and home rentals advertised on websites such as Airbnb and HomeAway.

Frabotta has until 4:30 p.m. on Aug. 6 to collect signatures from 1,000 registered city voters, an amount that represents 5 percent of registered voters at the last regular municipal election, said City Clerk Emily Scully.

In March, Frabotta and fellow petitioners collected an estimated 1,484 signatures in a similar effort. Scully certified 1,289 signatures, leading councilors to repeal an initial set of short-term rental regulations that they had approved by a 6-1 vote in February.

The divisive issue sparked a confrontational petition process. Supporters of the regulations said petitioners were giving false information as they gathered signatures, so they “shadowed” petitioners to offer their take on the ordinances before voters signed. Police issued a cease harassment notice to one person at Frabotta’s request.

On Tuesday, the council approved a modified version of the regulations that still bans unhosted or non-owner-occupied short-term rentals in all residential neighborhoods.

The council concluded nearly four hours of heated testimony and deliberations with two 5-2 votes on the retooled rules that will allow hosted or owner-occupied short-term rentals in all zoning districts.

A majority of councilors acted to stop single-family homes from being bought up and rented out for unhosted stays of less than 30 consecutive days at a time. The regulations take effect Jan. 1.

South Portland is among dozens of cities across the country that have wrangled with the growing popularity of short-term rentals available through websites such as Airbnb and HomeAway.

As of last November, there were 282 short-term rentals in South Portland listed on multiple websites, and 75 percent of them were for entire homes, according to the city’s online consultant.

In the retooled regulations, the council made a number of concessions related to hosted stays, such as allowing two adult guests per bedroom, with a maximum of six guests per house. The original ordinance capped the total number of guests at two adults.

The council also dropped an initial ban on homeowners renting out their houses while on vacation. Owners of detached single-family homes may rent their houses for at least seven days and as many as 14 days per year when they are away.

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

[email protected]

Twitter: KelleyBouchard

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