Category Archives: Neighborhoods

Chattanooga City Council will consider further restrictions on AirBnb, similar rentals

September 15th, 2020 | by Sarah Grace Taylor

The Chattanooga City Council will consider restricting non-owner-occupied, short-term vacation rentals to protect the city’s affordable housing stock.

An ordinance introduced Tuesday by Councilwoman Demetrus Coonrod would end the approval of applications for short-term vacation rentals — such as those on Airbnb, VRBO and similar listing sites — not usually occupied by the owner.

According to Coonrod, the legislation is based on a similar restriction in Nashville designed to prevent vacant houses and other issues associated with unoccupied rentals.

“I just really want to put some parameters in place that constituents will feel comfortable with,” Coonrod said, citing complaints from constituents. “They’ll feel safe [in] saying, ‘OK, our neighborhoods are protected. We don’t have blocks just with houses sitting idle, waiting to be rented for short-term vacation rentals.'”

Senior Tax Freeze Update

Chattanooga’s participation in the Senior Tax Freeze Program, once implemented by City Council, will enhance the quality of life of seniors and increase financial security. The Senior Tax Freeze Program, enacted by state law in 2007, allows counties and municipalities to freeze property taxes for older adults.

Qualifying homeowners would have their property taxes frozen at a base amount, which is how much they owe in the first year they qualify. When property tax rates increase in the future, the amount owed would not change for seniors participating in the program, which would provide increased security in retirement and help lower income senior citizens stay in their home.

To qualify, the homeowner must file an application every year as well as:

  • Own their principal place of residence in Chattanooga
  • Be 65 years of age or older by the end of the year in which the application is filed
  • Earn less than the county income limit established for that tax year (For 2017, the Hamilton County household income limit is $38,720.)
Participation in the Program
In Tennessee, 23 counties and 31 municipalities participate in the program.Hamilton County is not a participant as of 2017.Once City Council approves implementation, Chattanooga would join Memphis, Knoxville (Knox County) and Nashville (Davidson County), which are already participating in the Senior Property Tax Freeze Program.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do owners have to apply for the freeze or can they just state they are eligible?
The property owner has to apply and provide proof of age, ownership, and income.Do owners have to apply or claim eligibility each year or just once?
The owner has to reapply each year.What if the calculated taxes on a property are less than the frozen amount?
The taxpayer will pay the lesser amount.Who determines eligibility?
The City Treasurer’s Office would determine whether requirements for eligibility have been met.How would ownership of the property be verified?
Acceptable ownership documents would include a deed (warranty, quitclaim, etc.), property tax notice, property tax receipt, probated will, title or bill of sale for a mobile home, divorce decree, land contract, or trust.Is the owner required to have owned the home for any specific period of time?
The applicant must establish that he or she was an owner of the principal residence during the tax year and must retain ownership through the application deadline.

Is the owner required to live in the property to qualify?
No, but the property must be their principal residence for voting purposes.

Is there a limit set on acreage?
The maximum amount of land that can be subject to the freeze is 5 acres.

May an individual qualify for the freeze for multiple properties?
No, the applicant can only qualify on the principal residence. Principal residence is defined as the dwelling owned by the taxpayer and eligible as the taxpayer’s legal residence for voting purposes.

Is the tax freeze program in place of or in addition to the existing state Tax Relief Program?
Homeowners can apply for the tax freeze in addition to the existing Tax Relief Program.

When will we know this Property Tax Freeze is in effect?
Chattanooga City Council must sign off on the program before it’s implemented in Chattanooga.

Shepherd S.T.A.R.S.

We have wonderful, supportive neighborhoods in District 6 and I am very proud of the S.T.A.R.S. program that I helped create with the Shepherd Community Action Council.   The program happened as a result of complaints that the young people of Shepherd were out of control.  There were fights in the streets and instances of disrespect to adults.  Gang signs were appearing in the community and there was talk of gang recruitment taking place.

It was suggested that we needed to organize for dealing with the problems.  During a Community Action Council meeting, six neighbors volunteered to serve on a committee,  led by President Malcolm Walker, to design a program that would be filled with enrichment experiences and all the while, self-respect, good citizenship and goal setting for a healthy life  would be emphasized.

We named the program S.T.A.R.S. (Shepherd Training Academics, Respect and Service)   Twenty-five middle and high school students, boys and girls, were  identified to be involved in the pilot program.  Some of them were ideal students and some presented serious challenges.  We wrote letters to parents of the identified youth inviting them to a meeting.  The first program featured the police officer on the force who is most knowledgeable about gangs and gang activity in Chattanooga and in Shepherd.  From that meeting, additional programs were developed that included dealing with bullying, cooking, a field trip to Wilson Air Center, where students learned about flying, a trip on the Chattanooga Ducks along with other programs that were designed to teach self-esteem, empower the students to be accountable for their behavior and enhance pride in their community.