Catching Up with the Beacon City Council

Short-term Rentals

The Beacon City Council plans to hold a public hearing by video conference on May 18 to hear feedback on a proposal to legalize short-term rentals, such as those made through Airbnb.

In 2018, the council was unable to agree on how Beacon should regulate the rentals, effectively making them illegal.

A new proposed law would require owners or tenants seeking to rent their spaces to apply for a permit, which the city would issue if the rental space met applicable building and safety codes, including those for fire prevention and emergency access. Permits would have to be renewed every two years.

The law also would require that rental units be owner-occupied, which means the homes or accessory apartments must be the owner or tenant’s primary place of residence, not a property purchased or rented exclusively for rentals. The law would limit rentals of entire homes or apartments to 100 nights per year. Rental spaces also could not be rented out for more than 30 consecutive days.

Zoning Tables

The council will also hold a public hearing on May 18 on its revised zoning tables for the Central Main Street district and a new “transitional” district.

The tables, which have not been updated in more than 40 years, outline allowable uses and related guidelines for each of the city’s zones. Residents will be invited to comment on the proposed changes for the Main Street district and adjacent, transitional areas.

Main Street Heights

The City Council is close to voting on a law that would revise standards for approving four-story buildings on Main Street. The proposed law would require the Planning Board to issue a special-use permit before new or renovated buildings could have a fourth floor, except when a structure is in or adjacent to or directly across from another building in Beacon’s historic district, in which case the City Council would decide on the permit. In some cases, a setback could also be required for a fourth floor.

All permits for fourth floors would require that the development has no “substantial” negative effects on sunlight, parking, traffic or scenic views deemed “important” by the city. Developers seeking permits would also be required to provide a public benefit such as added affordable housing, parking, green building features or the construction or maintenance of a public plaza or open space.

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