The Annapolis City Council reappointed the Housing Authority of the City of Annapolis board chair Monday night, one of several high-profile positions, including the city manager and city attorney, that were considered.
Sandra Chapman, a resident of the Morris H. Blum senior apartments, has served on the seven-person Board of Commissioners for five years and has been chairwoman for three. Chapman’s term expired in July. Chapman will cease to be chair by the end of January, according to the authority’s bylaws which prohibit a person to be chair after three consecutive years.
There are two other open seats on the board, which manages day-to-day operations of the housing authority and oversees public housing in the city. The council filled one of those with Bishop Craig Coates, who has served as an Annapolis Police Department chaplain since 2017.
Public Works Director David Jarrell was confirmed as a replacement for outgoing City Manager Teresa Sutherland. Sutherland is returning to the private sector after less than two years on the job. Jarrell will take over on Feb. 1.
In a two-hour closed-door meeting in November, Buckley and the council hashed out the question of Jarrell’s qualifications. Afterward, Buckley said he has the five votes needed to appoint Jarrell.
Jarrell has served as public works head since 2010. He also spent some time serving as acting city manager in 2014.
“Tonight is a no-lose situation for because either I get the opportunity to be the city manager ... or I get the opportunity to go back to the best department in the city and spend some more time there,” Jarrell said. “I love the city and hopefully I can do great things as city manager.”
Meanwhile, the council yet again heard public testimony on short-term rental legislation that has garnered significant public interest as the city looks to tax and regulate properties who use popular online rental sites such as Airbnb, Home Away and VRBO. More than a dozen people testified about the bill.
The council passed nearly 30 amendments to O-26-19 at its Nov. 18 meeting, a few of which altered the bill enough to trigger a second public hearing. The bill will go to a final vote at the next City Council meeting on Jan. 13.
Most speakers testified about one amendment which effectively removes a primary residency requirement, a feature that is common in similar legislation that has passed across the country. Instead, short-term rental unit licenses would be limited to one per person. And if a property owner lives outside of Annapolis, they would be required to hire a local manager who is available at all times in the event of an emergency, according to the amended bill.
In an email to constituents on Sunday, Alderman Ross Arnett said the bill is ready for passage despite criticism still remaining.
“While no one faction is totally happy with all aspects of the legislation, I believe it is ready for a final vote,” Arnett, D-Ward 8, wrote.
Alderman Rob Savidge, D-Ward 7, has argued the amended bill does little to address what he said is the main issue: That there are too many short-term rentals already in existence, the majority of which are located in Wards 1 and 8. Savidge had planned to introduce four amendments to the bill Monday but none of the members who voted in favor of the amended bill Nov. 18 were willing to call a motion to reconsider to allow Savidge to do so.
One would have returned the primary residency requirement to the bill. Another amendment would have created a two-year transition period to allow property owners who don’t live in their residences to transition to new business strategies, such as operating a long-term rental.
Amy Rohrer, president and CEO of Maryland Hotel Lodging Association, called on the council to support a primary residency requirement. A similar measure has passed in Montgomery, Prince George’s counties and Baltimore City without legal challenges, Rohrer said.
“We are not opposed to home-sharing but we do have concerns related to unregulated commercial operators running full-time multiple units just like a hotel without licensing and fair taxation," she said.
A third amendment would have clarified that informal roommates or friends staying the night do not count as a short-term rental.
Susan Margulies represents what she calls “Little Airbnbs," or people who live in their home and occasionally rent out a room. Margulies asked why the council doesn’t incorporate a tiered inspection system like the one employed in Baltimore City in which own-occupied homes are waived from inspections.
“Little AirBnbs like myself would like that same thing,” Margulies said.
Garth DeVries, who owns and operates a short-term rental property but does not live in it, spoke in favor of the amended bill.
“I’m relieved that the primary residency requirement seems to have been removed,” DeVries said.
If the residency requirement was returned he wouldn’t be able to transition to a long-term rental, he said, due to how much his mortgage costs and would likely have to sell the property at a loss.
“This would be a seismic event,” DeVries said.
The council is also confirmed a new city attorney. Last month, Mayor Gavin Buckley tapped D. Michael Lyles, a private attorney and adjunct professor of law, to replace acting City Attorney Kerry Berger, who has served in the role since April. Lyles was sworn in at the meeting.