Prince George’s County Councilman Will Campos is hoping a plan to allow bed and breakfast establishments in the Gateway Arts District will help attract more tourism.
Campos (D-Dist. 2) of Hyattsville is seeking approval of a resolution that would amend the Gateway Arts District Sector Plan to allow for bed and breakfasts — defined by the council as one-family dwellings where customers are allowed to stay for no more than a two-week period — to operate in a majority of the arts district.
Currently, bed and breakfasts are allowed to operate in some parts of the county but not in the arts district areas of Brentwood, North Brentwood, Hyattsville and Mount Rainier, due to an oversight, according to Alonzo Washington, chief of staff for Campos.
“Let’s face it, we are still at the very beginning of the arts district’s rise,” Campos said, referring to the district created in 2002 that offers artists tax incentives to work and live there. “But once it finally gets there, in, God willing, about five to 10 years, there should be a market for people who want to come down to see things and explore.”
The resolution passed through Prince George’s County’s Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee on Oct. 3. The resolution will move to a second read and introduction and a public hearing before it will be voted on by the County Council. A date has not been scheduled for the introduction of the bill.
The resolution would allow for bed and breakfasts to operate in Brentwood, Mount Rainier and Hyattsville.
The move comes after years of debate on the issue. Campos said officials in the arts district initially feared the bed and breakfasts would turn into boarding houses. Some Hyattsville officials also had voiced concerns that the establishments would attract unwanted strangers.
In the past year, officials from three municipalities in the arts district sent letters to the county stating they approve of the businesses operating in their areas. North Brentwood officials have yet to support allowing the businesses in their town, but sent a letter of support for bed and breakfasts to operate in other parts of the arts district, according to Washington.
Washington said there is a lack of hotels in the area, and bed and breakfasts would provide a place for arts district visitors to stay.
Currently, Hyattsville has four homes that appear to rent rooms to visitors and operate as bed and breakfasts, listed on the website airbnb.com, a website that allows homeowners to list rooms for rent. Searches for similar businesses in the other three areas of the arts district turned up no results.
It is likely the homes are operating without any business licenses, said Jim Chandler, Hyattsville’s director of community and economic development. He said city officials are aware of the businesses but have not enforced action against them, because they are not a major concern.
Still, he said city officials hope any sort of amendments made to the arts district would define what could be considered a bed and breakfast, identify where in the city the establishments could be located and require that they file for business licenses with the city.
Brentwood Mayor Roger Rudder said he supports bed and breakfasts operating in the town.
“From an economic point of view, it makes sense,” he said. “There is a lot of economic development along the corridor. We want Brentwood to be a place where people stop and look around, not just pass through.”