NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) — It looks like party bikes won’t be rolling down the streets of Newport anytime soon.
The Newport City Council voted unanimously against allowing the use of quadricycle passenger vehicles Wednesday night.
The decision comes soon after the R.I. House passed legislation that would permit the use of party bikes statewide, but only with the community’s approval.
Councilors cited traffic concerns and injury liability as reasons to prohibit the party bikes on city streets.
Even though she voted to ban the party bikes, Councilor Jamie Bova wants said she wants to see if there are other options.
“I’d like to see … if there’s more information or possible places that a vehicle like this can be used in a positive manner,” Bova said.
The city council also voted against short-term rentals, which have been a point of contention for months.
City Solicitor Chris Behan told 12 News that Newport has been dealing with issues related to short-term rentals since the rise of online platforms like Airbnb, which have led to an increase in tourists renting entire properties instead of individual rooms.
Renters, according to Behan, can disturb neighbors by causing limited parking, creating noise, not properly disposing of trash, or causing commotion in areas where there should be no commercial activity. It also depletes the housing stock for people who want to live in Newport, he noted.
Anne Foley tells 12 News she fell in love with Newport after she rented an Airbnb, but now as a resident she sees how the lack of oversight can allow situations to get out of control.
“They get super rowdy and there’s not a lot of accountability, because the owners of the Airbnb’s aren’t in town,” Foley explained.
Others argued that for some, short-term rentals put food on the table.
“It’s not a second job,” Meg Nelson said. “It’s not just extra vacation money, this is my livelihood. If it’s taken away from me, I’m going to be in trouble.”
The city council specifically voted to ban short-term rentals for 29 days or less in residential areas and require permits for “guest house” rentals in the city’s Limited Business District.
Those permits would allow homeowners to lease up to two rooms with no more than four tenants, but only if they live there full-time and can oversee the guests staying on their property.