‘Violation of the zoning code’: Wichita vice mayor gives update on Airbnb, site of homicide

Local

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Just days after a fatal shooting at an Airbnb in Wichita, Vice Mayor Brandon Johnson is saying that the home should not have been an Airbnb site.

Around 3 a.m. Sunday, there was a shooting at the home at 254 N. Battin Avenue. Elijah Davis, 20, of Wichita, was found dead in the backyard of the home. Three other victims were injured but are already out of the hospital.

Johnson says neighbors in the Crown Heights area of Wichita have expressed concern about the home being used as an Airbnb.

Today, he took to social media to say that he learned that 254 N. Battin Avenue is zoned SF-5 Single Family. He says a hotel or motel at that location is a violation of the zoning code.

Johnson says hotels and/or motels are only permitted in these districts:

  • GO General Office
  • LC Local Commercial
  • GC General Commercial
  • CBD Central Business District
  • LI Limited Industrial
  • GI General Industrial
  • AFB Air Force Base

He says he plans to hold a virtual meeting next week with residents as the city works toward a solution.

“I’m hoping that the citizens will give us enough information thoughts and ideas to come up with a solution that works to protect neighborhoods, as well as, let folks who want to get a little additional income, get that,” Johnson said.

KSN also reached out to City Manager Robert Layton. He sent us this response:

In response to this week’s incident with a short-term rental home in Crown Heights, City staff is reviewing the current policies pertaining to these homes. A multi-departmental task force is being formed to consider rewriting regulations for temporary rental of rooms or homes in the community. We want to balance the demand for visitor and tourist accommodations with the safety of our neighborhoods.”

Robert Layton, Wichita City Manager

Wichita Airbnb owner, Heath Bechler, says Sunday’s incident is not representative of all short-term renters.

“99.9% of people who are interested in renting Airbnb you know are law-abiding,” she said. “They’re just regular ordinary people looking to either get a break on lodging, or you know, just feel a lot more comfortable.”

On Sunday, Airbnb sent KSN a statement saying it is investigating.

“Airbnb bans parties and we are appalled at the reported violence. Our team is urgently investigating this incident and have reached out to Wichita Police Department to aid in their investigation.”

The statement went on to say the listing at the home has been deactivated for now and the guest’s account has been suspended as the Airbnb team investigates.

KSN is continuing to look into the homicide and the Airbnb issue. We will provide updates as they become available.

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