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Gainesville City Council votes tonight on amended extended-stay hotel rules
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Some exceptions have been announced for extended stay hotel rules’ restrictions on length of stay, including for people who have family in the hospital, have experienced a fire or natural disaster or who have documentation from a nonprofit verifying they don’t have other options. - photo by Scott Rogers

The proposed regulations for hotels in Gainesville, which include limits on how long people can stay, have been updated to include some exceptions for people with extenuating circumstances.

The restrictions, set to be voted on by the Gainesville City Council Tuesday, would prohibit people from staying at a hotel for more than 15 days or an extended-stay hotel for more than 30 days. However, after the city received negative feedback on those provisions at a November meeting, officials adjusted the proposal to allow for some exceptions.

People would be exempt from the stay limits if they:

  • Have official documentation from a nonprofit housing agency or shelter stating that the person has no other housing option than a hotel (extended-stay lodging only)

  • Are with a business or government entity that has a written agreement with the hotel to house employees or contractors or their families 

  • Family members or caregivers of hospital patients

  • Have been displaced due to a fire or natural disaster and have documentation from an insurance company or government agency

The first proposal for the new regulations had required that hotels record the full name, phone number and home address of each person renting a room and anyone staying with them. The amendments only require hotels to record the number of occupants, as well as the phone number and name of the person paying for the room. Hotels would also have to record room numbers assigned to each person, arrival and departure times, and room rates.

Requirements for government-issued photo identification and for waiting two weeks between stays at hotels that were in the original proposal have been eliminated in the revised version.

Existing hotels will be grandfathered in as legal, non-conforming uses,” according to the ordinance, but will still be subject to other building regulations.

“There may be cases where some life safety code measures, cooking and things like that, we need to address from a building code standpoint,” Matt Tate, the city’s deputy director of economic and community development, said.

At a Nov. 12 Gainesville Planning and Appeals Board meeting, several community members spoke in opposition to the proposal, with many concerned about the limits on stays. City Manager Bryan Lackey said some of the community response was surprising.

“I think staff were caught off guard a little bit about some of the concerns that came out initially about the whole 30-day requirement on hotels and extended-stay. … That wasn’t a change,” Lackey said.

The city’s current definition of lodging services is a facility that offers the same room for 15 or fewer days, while Gainesville currently defines extended stay lodging services as offering accommodations for more than 15 days and up to a month in the same room. The proposed regulations include a new “maximum length of occupancy” section stating that lodging services are only allowed to offer rooms to patrons if they stay within those length-of-stay limits.

Gainesville City Council

When: 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 17

Where: Public Safety Complex, 701 Queen City Parkway