There is a saying among those who bend rules that it is better to ask for forgiveness than for permission.
Not always, it seems.
The Kirkwood City Council on Aug. 1 voted 3-4 to deny a special use permit sought by Adam Roth to operate an Airbnb facility at his home in the 600 block of Hickory Hollow Lane.
Roth was operating his Airbnb without a permit until a neighbor complained to the city about seeing a lot of out-of-state license plates parked in front of his house.
Kirkwood has an ordinance pertaining to bed and breakfasts, and two operated some years ago with the approval and satisfaction of their neighbors and the city, said Mayor Tim Griffin.
However, Roth’s neighbors objected, and Griffin said that he and some members of the council are unhappy with the location of the facility at the end of a cul-de-sac, which aggravates parking issues.
“I don’t think the end of a cul-de-sac on a residential street is the right place for a bed and breakfast,” said Griffin.
Council Member Nancy Luetzow said she generally approves of Airbnb’s business practices, but found the objection one neighbor expressed to the council about the Hickory Hollow residence to be “particularly poignant.”
“How would you like an operation like this next door to you?” said the neighbor at the council’s July 18 public hearing on Roth’s petition.
It’s possible that other Airbnb facilities are operating in Kirkwood without permits, City Planner Jonathan Raisch told the council. But the city does not plan to launch an investigation into their whereabouts (though they are advertised on the internet), unless neighbors complain, Griffin and council members agree.
But Airbnb operators who might decide to seek a city permit should come forward, taking no alarm from the council’s disapproval of Roth’s petition, Griffin said.
“Each case will be judged on its own merit,” he said.