ISLE OF PALMS -- The white-capped waves of the ocean beckon from the crest of the Isle of Palms connector and thousands flock to them once the weather warms, sometimes renting large island homes for vacations.
But City Council took a unanimous step Tuesday night to give some relief to residents living among the large short-term rentals. Council voted 9-0 to limit the number of overnight guests in newly constructed rental homes to no more than 12.
It's another in a handful of changes made in the coastal community over the years in the hopes of taking back beach neighborhoods from loud, unruly guests.
As the region has grown, residents have seen an increasing number of roomier vacation rentals. Some call them mini-hotels, where large crowds gather, infringing on the peace of people living next door.
"I really think 12 (guests are) enough in any one house," resident Linda Lynch said.
Council discussed imposing the 12-person limit to all new rental licenses and lapsed licenses but decided to apply it only to new construction instead. Mayor Dick Cronin said the change would prevent city staff from deciding whether a license had lapsed.
Limits also would be applied to significantly altered homes.
The city will hold a public hearing on the issue in May before giving the ordinance a final reading.
Council said the intent of the ordinance is to stop developers from essentially opening businesses in residential neighborhoods. Isle of Palms isn't the only community trying to keep residents in mind.
Folly Beach City Council plans to consider establishing rules in which complaints about vacationers could affect a rental home owner's chances of renewing his or her rental license, said Aaron Pope, Folly Beach zoning administrator.
There, city officials had discussed limiting the number of overnight guests in vacation rentals but chose not to, Pope said.
Some Folly Beach residents feel like their quality of life suffers as large crowds gather at rental homes, he said.
"The residents we do have out here sometimes feel like they are being held hostage by the huge 10-bedroom house next door," Pope said.
Vacationers might invite their friends and family, and before you know it, 25 guests are in one beach home surrounded by haphazardly parked cars, he said. That also has been a common complaint on the Isle of Palms.
Residents often ask why their city can't be more like Sullivan's Island, a beach town with higher property values and a more residential feel. It was one of the first beaches in the area to place restrictions on vacation rentals. A moratorium was placed on all new rental licenses in 2000 and limited overnight guests to 12.
Some residents have asked the Isle of Palms to study how similar rules would affect property-tax revenues.
The Isle of Palms beach has been envisioned as a resort since its beginning. Resident Joe Settimio said the new rules might be too little too late. The large homes should never have been allowed in the first place, he said, adding that he's against anything the Isle of Palms council does.
"They let the cat out of the bag way too long ago and now they want to take everything back," Settimio said.