NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Short-term rental properties are a hot issue in the mayor’s race.

News4 found that although incumbent Mayor David Briley has said he wants to protect neighborhoods, in 2017 he advocated for a Council bill that favored the short-term rental industry.

Omid Yamini has been fighting to keep short-term rentals out of residential neighborhoods unless the owners live in the houses.

He said Briley hasn’t helped.

“In 2017 I saw actions that supported keeping short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods,” said Yamini.

In 2017, Metro Council was considering two different bills.

One of them – Bill 937 – would have allowed short-term rentals owned by outside investors to continue to get permits in residential neighborhoods.

That’s the bill Briley, who was Vice Mayor at the time, wanted the Planning Commission to approve.

Briley appeared at a Planning Commission meeting in December 2017.

“Your role in that, with all due respect, tonight is to recommend approval of 937 or to make no recommendation at all,” Briley told the Planning Commission in 2017. “I believe that the elected officials have a right to make that decision.”

Bill 937 was the bill the short-term industry liked but neighborhood advocates did not.

“Absolutely disagreed with, because it would have allowed them to continue,” said Yamini.

The bill Briley supported didn’t pass. Instead the Council adopted a bill that gives neighborhoods more protection.

Briley has since supported more restrictions on short-term rentals, but that wasn’t his position two years ago.

News4 asked Briley about the 2017 turn-about during a recent news conference on an unrelated topic.

The Mayor's Office released a statement to News4 after the story aired:

"When he was Vice Mayor, Mayor Briley went in front of the Planning Commission to ask them to approve BL2017-937, as he believed was a workable compromise between two opposing sides, or – if they would not approve – to ask them to stay neutral on the bill and let the Councilmembers decide the best path forward for the city.

Mayor Briley did so because he believed a total ban on STRPs, which was what BL2017-608 called for, would result in pre-emption by the State legislature, creating a much worse and less regulated environment.

That is exactly what happened.

Since taking office, Mayor Briley has made it a priority to better regulate STRPs in our neighborhoods, which is why his latest budget included funding to add two full-time inspectors to the Codes Department who will focus exclusively on short-term rentals. He also increased the fees for short-term rental permits so the general fund doesn’t take a hit to pay for these new inspectors.

Mayor Briley is serious about protecting and investing in our neighborhoods. In his last Capital Spending Plan, he put $351 million into neighborhoods and infrastructure throughout the county in the form of sidewalks, street improvements, libraries, school improvements, and more. Interestingly, Councilman Cooper voted against this investment in our neighborhoods."

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Reporter

Nancy Amons is an award-winning member of the News4 Investigates team. She has been breaking stories in Middle Tennessee for more than 20 years.

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