Letter writer: Elephant looms in short-term rental debate

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Graphic by Lori Deaton

In response to “Hidden Writer With Not-so-hidden Agenda” by E.T. Wolfsohn [in the] Dec 28 issue [Xpress]: Approximately 10 years ago, I contacted a city official before establishing a vacation rental in a residential neighborhood in Asheville. This official offered no reason not to proceed, referred to eminent domain and said that the only regulation in effect would be driven by a complaint from a neighbor.

Recently, the city approved the construction of multiple new hotels in downtown Asheville, and suddenly short-term rentals became a hotly contested issue. Over the past year, the city decided to enforce a ban on residential STRs, and I had to convert my property to 30-day rentals. Many people believe, as I do, that the majority of City Council members have been influenced by the hotel lobby — the elephant standing in the city’s living room.

For over a decade, I have had both short- and long-term rentals and feel that I can offer an experienced response to the mean-spirited rant written last week by E.T. Wolfsohn.

I am in total agreement that “a bad neighbor in a desirable area has a devastating negative impact on one’s peace and happiness.” The only tenant that created unpleasantness in my rental experience was a long-termer, and the eviction process can be very lengthy. I am a  responsible landlord and have learned that even carefully vetted prospective tenants can surprisingly become the “neighborhood nuisance.”

On the other hand, my short-term guests have been quiet, respectful and appreciative of having an alternative to an expensive hotel. On one occasion, I had a complaint from a neighbor about noise, and I was able to immediately correct the problem. This would not have been as easy with a disruptive tenant with a long-term lease.

I have a great appreciation for community, consider my neighbors as friends and have had their support when I operated my STRs. I meticulously maintained my properties in order to offer them as vacation rentals, and they are among the most attractive homes in the neighborhood. It has not been my experience that my neighbors believed that “STRs contribute to anxiety, malaise and most likely lower the home values in the area.”

Many people like myself misinterpreted the earlier “wink and nod” permission implied by the city and invested money and considerable effort in creating an attractive, comfortable and welcoming property for visitors to our city. It makes no sense that City Council can’t expend the same effort on creating smart regulations and collecting taxes as they are in hunting down and fining owners of STRs. Again — the huge elephant looms.

— Mary Castiglione
Asheville

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12 thoughts on “Letter writer: Elephant looms in short-term rental debate

  1. NFB

    The short version: “I knew that STR we illegal when I started mine and am now upset because the law is actually being enforced.”

    Interesting the letter writer focuses on hotels but never mentions the effect STR have on housing costs.

    More housing for tourists = less housing for residents. In a city with incredibly high housing costs that’s a real problem.

  2. boatrocker

    It all boils down to NFB’s comment

    “More housing for tourists= less housing for residents”.
    It’s a matter of actually caring about residents’ housing vs the Almighty Dollar.

    To those who value $ above all else, may your own domicile sit right next to a STR.

  3. WHATDA

    Homeowners should be able to rent to whomever they would like. We don’t need more laws telling us what to do in our house, much less policing our homes. If there is a need for affordable tourism, then the industry will figure that out. But for now, it should be up to the home and property owners as to what they can do, not up to those who weren’t here early enough to afford it. I have been a resident of Asheville for 15 years, own my home – it’s total BS that I can’t use my property to earn a living off of our biggest industry besides beer.

    • luther blissett

      “We don’t need more laws telling us what to do in our house, much less policing our homes.”

      Let’s hope your neighbor follows his dream to run a chicken slaughterhouse out of his garage.

      “–not up to those who weren’t here early enough to afford it. I have been a resident of Asheville for 15 years–”

      Well, that’s a polite way to say FYIGM.

    • Curious

      Could you earn a living by making beer, our biggest industry besides tourism, in your own home? Does the analogy hold?

  4. The Real World

    Excellent letter from Mary. She is exactly right that city council is now on the verge of flooding the market with STR’s in the form of even more new hotels.

    Balance, folks. Who is going to argue against balance? We can have hotels and STR’s but it all has to be structured in an intelligent, reasonable manner. It’s time to ignore the extremists (the all-or-none types) and get down to creating policy that works and serves many rather than few.

  5. Deplorable Infidel

    How many MILLIONS of $$$ can Buncombe Co taxpayers SAVE per year by achieving consolidation of the two government schools systems into ONE ? WHEN will we achieve this progressive model of ALL ONE with maximum diversity for the children AND the taxpayers ?

  6. Scott Rusinko

    With respect, Deplorable Infidel, your comments might be perceived to be credible if you would remove your caps lock key.

    • Deplorable Infidel

      thank you Scott…caps are usually used to make an emphasized point. duh.

      • Scott Rusinko

        In middle school, where they also frequently rely on the word, “duh.”

      • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

        CAPS LOCK nazis. If you want to shut their whining down use HTML tags: [b]text[/b] for bold, [i]text[/i] for italics, [u]text[/u] for underline

        In all cases use the angle brackets on the comma and period keys instead of the square brackets [ ] that I used for examples.

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