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June 17--Minneapolis is preparing to regulate short-term rental services like Airbnb, following a similar effort across the river in St. Paul.

Council Member Jacob Frey kicked off the legislative process Friday by introducing a short-term rental ordinance, though the language of his proposal is still being finalized. City staff expect the matter to get a public hearing in mid-August.

The proposal would recognize and regulate what's already believed to be a common practice in the city, though demand for short-term rentals is likely to rise around major sporting events like the Super Bowl. City staff members do not know how many units are now rented out but have seen estimates of between 600 and 1,000.

The city's director of regulatory services, Noah Schuchman, said the goal is not to halt rentals through Airbnb or other platforms. Rather, they are mulling questions like how they might be inspected and what fees or taxes would be appropriate.

Properties used entirely for rental purposes should generally already have a rental license from the city, Schuchman said. The gray area involves properties rented out only for limited periods of time, or rooms rented within people's private homes.

"From a safety and regulatory standpoint, I would like to be able to understand where these are, what type of buildings are being used, and have some ability to address safety issues if and when they come up," Schuchman said.

Minneapolis' consideration of the regulations comes a couple of months after St. Paul staff presented proposed short-term rental rules to the city's Planning Commission. Staff members from the two cities have said they were working to address similar issues and have been meeting as they developed their respective rules.

Ben Breit, a spokesman for Airbnb, said 1,400 people rent out their homes through the company in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

"Our Minneapolis hosts are eager to partner with city policymakers as they pursue fair and reasonable home sharing regulations, and our St. Paul hosts hope to help simplify the current home sharing proposal," he said.

St. Paul's proposal would limit how many people can stay in a home and the number of units in an apartment or condo building that can be short-term rentals. Property owners who are hosting guests would also have to pay sales and lodging taxes and meet certain requirements, like having appropriate insurance.

"The goal is to allow it, absolutely," Frey said of Minneapolis' ordinance. "We will be working with the sharing industry to make sure this functions."

Staff writer Jessie Van Berkel contributed to this report.

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