A Buckhead mansion remains available on the short-term rental service Airbnb, despite a previous city shutdown order, frustrating nearby residents and City Councilmember Howard Shook.
The mansion at 4205 Peachtree-Dunwoody Road has received many complaints, drawing the ire of residents who complained of loud parties. The city in April sent a letter requiring the owner, Paul McPherson, to stop renting the property by April 24. However, the property is still listed in the Airbnb website, which shows it was scheduled to be used on Labor Day weekend.
Residents have been trying to get the city to shut down the rental since a May 2016 concert that drew headlines after social media posts advertised cover charges to get into the concert and a picture of one guest flashing a pistol. After that, Shook said he had the owner removed from Airbnb by contacting the company, but it is now listed under the name “Jon,” although McPherson still owns the property.
Shook said he doesn’t know the city’s plans for this specific property, but said he will look for ways to address the problem with short-term rentals throughout the city.
“It is not a problem unique to this property or this city,” he said. “It has driven me nuts.”
The city prohibits using a property zoned for a single-family home as a hotel, which is defined in the city code as a property “offered as transient lodging accommodations, available at daily rental rates, to the general public.”
Jewanna Gaither, deputy press secretary for Mayor Reed, said the city found a family was not living in the property and issued a cease-and-desist letter, but she would not answer questions about whether that letter is being enforced. She added the Department of City Planning is investigating the issue of short-term rentals.
“We determined that no family, as defined by city code, resided at the house and determined that the property was still being used as a hotel, not a single-family dwelling,” Gaither said in a written statement. “The Department of Planning is analyzing the issue of short-term rentals in single-family residential neighborhoods.”
At the August Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods meeting, Gordon Certain, the president of the North Buckhead Civic Association, said the city is now working on a compromise with the owner.
“The approach they’re willing to tolerate apparently is to have a person responsible full-time living at the house,” Certain said.
The Airbnb listing for the property now notes: “There is a caretaker that lives on the property. Their residence is exclusive of yours, but they are available if the need should arise.”
McPherson would not answer questions about if the property was still being rented, or if he was working with the city, but he complained about what he sees unfair targeting and possible racist motives.
McPherson said there have been no other noise violations since the 2016 incident and neighbors’ complaints are unwarranted. “They’re just harping on an incident that happened over a year ago,” he said.
He also said they are complaining because they are uncomfortable with having an African-American neighbor. “This victimization is causing me too much stress. I’m totally stressed out about a house I paid over $1 million for,” he said. “My house always has been and remains a non-issue.”
Certain also reported at the meeting that the city needs eyewitnesses to testify that the property is being rented before it can act further.
This property became a symbol of residents’ frustrations with short-term rentals at the meeting, with several others airing complaints about rentals in their neighborhoods.
Tom Tidwell, the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods chairman, said a rap video was filmed at an Airbnb property in his neighborhood, Moore’s Mill, about a month ago. He said cars were parked across the neighborhood and he found an empty alcohol bottle in his yard.
Shook, the councilmember representing the area, said he has had meetings with many city officials to try to find a solution to short-term rentals and complained the issue should have already been addressed. “You would think this would have been fixed a while ago,” Shook said.
While he hopes to address it through a change in the law, Shook said many properties already violate other laws that aren’t being enforced, including the noise ordinance.
“They’ve already violated laws,” he said. “That’s the part of this I find extremely frustrating.”