by Hunter Dawkins, Publisher/Owner – or

With a room packed to discuss the proposal of changes to the Short Term Rental Ordinance at the city of Pass Christian Board of Aldermen meeting Tuesday, August 15, 2023, citizens delivered both sides of opinion on the matter at hand. Ultimately, the aldermen unanimously rejected the changes to the ordinance that were submitted and voted down 2-3 at tabling the proposal to the next meeting.

A member of the city’s Short-Term Rental (STR) Advisory Committee, city resident, and business owner Ronnie Daniels spoke first addressing the positives of short-term rentals and how the proposal suggested on the agenda did not answer a lot of questions.

“There have been a lot of questions about the new ordinance, something that was approved in December, but is not on the city’s website,” expressed Daniels.  “Every time I have asked the city for a copy of this, have been told it is not done.”

Pass Christian City Attorney Malcolm Jones spoke to Daniels publicly, stating the ordinance was actually adopted June 18, 2019 and the current STR ordinance has not been amended yet.  Daniels then responded with a question to how the short-term rental owners were being regulated and charged with specific fees.

Under the city Short-Term Rental ordinance, Pass Christian has a cap of 150 rental in both commercial and residential zones, along with $200 for a permit, and several regulatory requirements.

Pass Christian Alderman-at-Large Kenny Torgeson stated that he did not disagree with short-term rentals, but that density should be clarified. Ward 1 Alderwoman Betty Douglass Sparkman addressed Daniels with seven talking points about her approval of short- term rentals, but with specific conditions and away from a large number of community subdivisions.

“Every short-term rental is not tearing the city apart,” said Ward 4 Alderman Victor Pickich, who spoke about the division within the community.

“How are you distinguishing between the short-term rentals in the ordinance,” was the question asked by Pass Christian city resident Anne James, who did not look favorably on short-term rentals. “There is nothing that distinguishes too many in a neighborhood.”

The proposal on the agenda suggested an increase in the STR Advisory Committee, allowing permits only in T4+ and T5 zones, review of new STR applications considering density, and a $200 increase in a permit.

After rejecting the proposal, Pass Christian Mayor Jimmy Rafferty, the Board of Aldermen, city staff, and committees will look into changes toward amending the city ordinance with public input.