Short-term rental operators join forces, file lawsuit

Rebecca Robertson's duplex on Spears Avenue contains a short-term rental unit downstairs as well as a unit occupied by a long-term tenant upstairs. Photo from HomeAway website.

Rebecca Robertson is a long-time Asheville artist, a wife, an owner of short- and long-term rental property — and now, a plaintiff in a lawsuit taking on Asheville’s prohibition of short-term rentals.

“After leaving the art show circuit, I have been able to make a living by creating a vacation rental near downtown,” explains Robertson.  She bought a dilapidated property on Spears Avenue in 2013. “It was a teardown,” she recalls, describing the extensive renovation project which resulted in two separate units. Robertson uses the first-floor unit as a short-term rental she calls “The Bluebird of Happiness” in online listings, while the upstairs unit is rented to a long-term tenant.

When she brought the property, Robertson’s realtor urged her to seek out a property which would lend itself to a short-term rental use. “The feeling was that everybody does it. If you get caught, it’s a $100 fine, but the enforcement process is complaint driven. If your neighbors are happy, you are not going to have a problem,” Robertson says she was told.

An anonymous complaint

On October 16, Robertson and about 30 other short-term rental operators received notices of violation from the city. The notices gave the operators 30 days to cease renting their properties to short-term guests. The action stemmed from a city investigation of 40 alleged violations submitted by a single anonymous source as links to internet vacation rental listings in Asheville.

In August, city council increased the fine for violations of the short-term rental prohibition to $500 per night and finalized plans to hire a city staff member dedicated to enforcing existing city regulations on short-term rentals. Shannon Morgan, who has been with the city in various positions for 15 years, took up the new staff position last week.

Upon receiving notice that she must cease operating her property as a short-term rental within 30 days or face steep daily fines, Robertson felt as though the ground underneath her feet had shifted: “I don’t know what I’m going to do. The city has taken my income away from me.”

Coming together

Robertson and a group of fellow short-term rental operators have banded together to form ASTRA, the Asheville Short-Term Rental Association. The group aims to serve as a resource for property owners and as a voice for their concerns. ASTRA’s group Facebook page has attracted 417 likes in the two months it’s been online. Posts on the page include links to articles challenging arguments advanced by those short-term rental opponents, letters from satisfied short-term rental customers and the results of a small survey of previous short-term rental guests in Asheville.

Some ASTRA members, including Robertson, have taken their activism a step further by working with local attorney Derek Allen of Ward and Smith, P. A. to challenge the legality of the city’s short-term rental regulations. On Wednesday, Oct. 28, Allen filed a civil action against the city on behalf of Robertson, her husband Wann Near and Christal Weatherly of Asheville.

In the complaint, Allen advances five separate legal arguments in support of the plaintiffs’ claim that the city’s prohibition against short-term rentals is invalid. In one argument, the case claims that Chapter 42a of North Carolina state law, the Vacation Rental Act, provides rules for vacation rentals which allow for short-term rentals. The case asserts that the state law preempts any local law, including Asheville’s Unified Development Ordinance.

Allen commented that Asheville’s short-term rental operators are not the first group of owners to challenge local prohibitions on vacation rentals. And he stressed that his clients and other short-term operators may find relief through means other than a lawsuit.

“We suggested some different alternatives to city council and the planning department years ago,” said Allen. “We favor a special use or conditional use permit process, whereby the city can tailor its approval to each specific property. That kind of process can consider a list of factors, including the proximity to downtown, the presence of other units, transportation issues and others.”

“I can’t imagine anything more Asheville than sharing your home with guests from out of town. This is an awesome alternative to have in Asheville,” Allen concluded.

Official response

City Attorney Robin Currin responded to inquiries in an email: “I did receive this Complaint, but have not had time to review closely or analyze, so it would be premature to discuss at this time. We will be filing an Answer in the next several months, and that document will set out the City’s position specifically. I am glad to share that with you when it is prepared and filed.”

Mayor Esther Manheimer was not immediately available to comment on the lawsuit.

Councilman Cecil Bothwell said, “This was to be expected. A rash decision by members of city council has plunged us into another needless lawsuit. Many STR owners have been operating for years with city staff assurance that all would fine as long as there were no complaints. We have permitted people to make substantial investments based on that enforcement policy, and they very reasonably feel defrauded. I’m sorry this will have to be settled in court, since there are much better ways to handle short-term rentals as we have seen in many other cities.”

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About Virginia Daffron
Managing editor, lover of mountains, native of WNC. Follow me @virginiadaffron

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45 thoughts on “Short-term rental operators join forces, file lawsuit

  1. NFB

    So, in other words “we knew this was illegal but decided to do it anyway and are now upset because the city is enforcing the law.”

    • Given that the “complaints” were filed from one source, I’d bet someone the hotels are involved. And these are probably the same people who put this law on the books in the first place.

      • NFB

        Or maybe they were filed from neighbors who bought a house in an area zoned residential and did not like their residential community being turned in to a hotel and commercial zone. And these are probably the same people who put these laws on the book in the first place.

        If someone buys a house in a neighborhood zoned residential they 1) have a right to expect that the neighborhood will be a residential one and not a commercial one and 2) no right to turn that house into a commercial venture.

        • Jonna

          I live next door to these people. It wasn’t their neighbors complaining. This house looked like a haunted s***hole before they bought it and transformed it into the sweet place it is now.

  2. Actually NFB, from my conversations with STR operators, most DID NOT know it was illegal, just as most HomeStay operators had no idea there were either permits available or stringent rules. The fact that City staff members clearly assured STR operators that they could operate as long as there were no complaints is key. And in fact, enforcement has heretofore been complaint based.

    • RonP

      Cool. I’ll use the Cecil Bothwell Defense the next time I’m pulled over for speeding. “I’m sorry, officer, I DID NOT know the speed limit was 35. If you give me a ticket I’ll sue the city because I was unaware of the law and you don’t ticket everybody who speeds on this road.”

      • NFB

        “I’m sorry, officer, I DID NOT know the speed limit was 35. If you give me a ticket I’ll sue the city because I was unaware of the law and you don’t ticket everybody who speeds on this road.”

        Or how about I’ve been speeding on this road for years because the city rarely enforces the speed limit but after it gets out of hand they do start enforcing it I get caught. SUE THE CITY!

      • Lulz

        LOL, you mean you didn’t know that driving without a tag is a good reason to get one pulled over lulz.

        Plenty of high end property for sale with good city views that is ripe for STR’s. And that’s exactly what I’d do with it. After all, why should the hotels on the Biltmore Estate have people stay for 1-2 months at a time and make huge amounts of money while others with better property can’t? And that bit of info comes from current Biltmore Estate employees.

      • Big Al

        I don’t think Cecil is the one to talk to about obeying traffic laws.

    • NFB

      Councilman Bothwell,

      I was referring to this paragraph:

      “When she brought the property, Robertson’s realtor urged her to seek out a property which would lend itself to a short-term rental use. “The feeling was that everybody does it. If you get caught, it’s a $100 fine, but the enforcement process is complaint driven. If your neighbors are happy, you are not going to have a problem,” Robertson says she was told.”

      • Asheville Native

        Actually, if the process were truly complaint driven, and the complaints had to be verified, I don’t think there would be many fines. My home has been in my family since 1926 and I have lived in it, for the most part, since I was 1 year old. I have raised my children in it. We own a (former now due to a notice of violation – not based on any behavior by our guests) short term rental home directly across the street from us. The guests that stayed in that house via Airbnb were very nice people. They walked in the neighborhood, played in the yard, and never caused a disturbance. We cannot be the only STR owners that have had this experience.

        However, the city of Asheville and some vocal citizens have pitted neighbor against neighbor by creating issues that “might”arise out of this process. They have succeeded in having people consider their neighbors as criminals in a situation that is a zoning issue, not a crime. My neighborhood has not had single family owned homes as the majority of homes for over 20 years. At least 50 percent of the neighborhood is long-term rentals. But the short term rental homes (there was more than just our house providing this service) are the best maintained and the least problematic in the neighborhood. The whole industry is based on whether you get good reviews on your home. Thus, the homes must be taken care of and a nice place to stay. The STR homes near me have increased my property value, not the opposite.

        And, having seen many of the STR homes in Asheville, they are not taking affordable housing out of the marketplace. If they become long term rentals, the monthly rates will not fall into the affordable category. Another red herring being used to promote someone’s political agenda.

        The renters can stay in a STR with their family in a way that is much more affordable, thus they have more money to put into the local economy in a more diverse way. As a small business owner, this is another reason I want more STR in town, not less. Local, independent businesses are under pressure from national chains and this is only going to increase. Anything that gives them a more equal footing is welcome.

    • Niota

      That’s like saying I didn’t see a speed limit sign so I thought it was OK to go 60 mph in a 25 mph zone. Give me a break! This lady knew it was illegal when she bought the property and thought she could get away with it. She and others need to take some accountability for their actions! The City should counter sue for the cost of attorney fees and court costs that Asheville taxpayers have to foot for this nonsense!

  3. The speeding analogy is way off base. Speed limits are posted. Most short term rental operators in Asheville presumably had no idea that it was illegal. (I’m on City Council and I had no idea until another Council member decided to make an issue of it starting about a year ago.)

    If Staff was telling people that it was okay as long as they didn’t incur complaints, then it is extremely unreasonable to abruptly start enforcing a rule (or rules) that were ignored by the City for years.

    • RonP

      1. “Speed limits are posted. ”
      Nope. The Asheville speed limit is 35mph unless otherwise posted. That’s in the municode (same place as the STR regulation) that no one reads and there may or may not be a sign that you may or may not see when you pass the city line. If you did a survey I bet very few residents would know this – but, it’s still the law. Which leads to…

      2. “Most short term rental operators in Asheville presumably had no idea that it was illegal. ”
      Ignorance of the law is no excuse. I seem to remember that from high school civics class.

      3. “If Staff was telling people that it was okay as long as they didn’t incur complaints, then it is extremely unreasonable to abruptly start enforcing a rule”
      Someone filed a complaint on these folks so this argument is moot.

      Try again.

  4. priced out hopeful homebuyer

    I like you Cecil and I’m voted for you several times but your arguments here don’t hold water. This property owner stated clearly obviously and openly that her realtor told her at the time she bought the property that what she was doing was illegal. Furthermore, go before any judge in any court anywhere and they will tell you ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking it.

    if these supposedly ‘concerned property owners’ cared as much about enriching the city as they say… They would be cognizant of the fact that rental properties are scarce and overpriced. it’s a sham and a cover, these greedy individuals want to collect in a weekend what a year-round tennant would pay in a month. plain and simple.

    I have no problem with home share situations or if a year round resident wants to convert their detached garage into a mother-in-law style apartment for a STR.

    The problem comes from wealthy out of state ‘investors’ or part-time residents (who vastly outnumbered the local residents doing this) take viable rental housing off the market in order to convert it to an STR.

    this plaintiffs property like many other great houses and apartments in the city will sit empty 4 to 5 months out of the year while local people are struggling to find housing and especially to find housing within the city where they can easily travel to and from work use public transportation or raise a family.

    these ‘in city’ STRs contribute to gridlock congestion and sprawl… as first time homebuyers and prospective renters have to move to outlying areas because such a high number of homes in the city sit empty a third of the year or more.

    I was excited to vote for you in the county commissioner race Cecil. I’m shocked to see you callously discounting the needs of ash billions while supporting a system that will prop up out of state carpetbaggers who own three or four houses in this town and milk the tourist and take the money else where. needless to say you’ve lost my vote

    • Hi Priced Out,
      I don’t think you understand my position. I believe there is no way at all to get a handle on a black market. (The drug war is an obvious analogy.) Other cities have found ways to manage STRs.
      My proposal has been, from the outset of the Council discussion: legalize, license, inspect and regulate.
      As it is, advertising an STR is free speech – so we can’t prohibit ads.
      As it is, we can warn people, but unless we catch people actually occupying STRs, and ONLY occupying for less than 30 days, we have no way to take it to court. (Any landlord can claim the group rented for a month but only stayed for three days. Try to prove that in court.)
      If we issue licenses, perhaps limiting them to operators who can prove they have been engaged in the practice in the last 6 months (so there isn’t a gold rush for new permits), with safety inspections, insurance requirements, notification of neighbors, etc. Then we will have a real grasp of the situation.
      Going forward any STR ad that did not feature a license number would automatically be illegal – so we could prohibit that.
      We could limit licenses to one per owner. We could gradually reduce the number of STRs through attrition – as some quit (it isn’t necessarily an easy business) and others had licenses revoked for problem behaviors. We could expand the number if it seemed a good idea.
      As it is we have no idea how many are actually operating in the City and won’t ever know. At the last Council hearing we heard assertions that there were 900-1,000 operating in the City – but when I went online later and checked AirBnB it said 1,000+ in Asheville. And 1,000+ in Black Mt., and 1,000+ in Montreat, and 1,000+ in Weaverville and 1,000+ in Biltmore Forest. Clearly a regional number.
      There are more than a dozen online platforms for short term rentals, and more will continue to pop up. Instead of paying a City employee $60,000 a year to play whack-a-mole, I believe we should take a more rational approach.

    • Oh, and to touch on your “out of state investors” – we really have no handle on how many of those actually exist. Until we legalize, license, inspect and regulate, the out of state investors are a conjectural illusion.

      • RonP

        Seriously? It’s trivial to cross-reference the airbnb/vrbo/etc data with the Buncombe property tax data. (I spent 15 minutes doing this for my neighborhood to get an idea. Can you say out-of-state-owners?)

        I can’t find it at the moment, but someone did this analysis for NOLA and found a significant portion of the STRs were owned by out-of-towners.

        Hey X-press or C-T – This sounds like a good project for an investigative reporter intern.

        • RonP

          Here’s link to the study/analysis of NOLA STRs:

          http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2015/09/short-term_rental_spread_could.html
          (If this forum strips the link, it’s w w w . nola . com/politics/index.ssf/2015/09/short-term_rental_spread_could.html)

          A snippet from the link:
          “The analysis, released online Wednesday (Sept. 2), has troubling implications for housing availability and equality in the city, said the three New Orleans residents who produced it, Darin Acosta, Breonne DeDecker and Andru Okun. The data show Airbnb-style rentals, already widespread in neighborhoods along the river, are so profitable that, if left unchecked, they could continue to proliferate, sending rents higher and displacing working-class residents, the authors said.

          Officials with Airbnb and HomeAway questioned the findings as an incomplete snapshot of the rental landscape. “

    • Lance

      “The problem comes from wealthy out of state ‘investors’ or part-time residents (who vastly outnumbered the local residents doing this) take viable rental housing off the market in order to convert it to an STR.”

      Do you have any evidence to support this? I personally know about a half dozen people who have short term rentals. All of them are residents just trying to bring in a little extra money. Anecdotal, I know, but I find it hard to believe a bunch of wealthy out-of-towners think that buying a short term rental property in Asheville of all places, where real estate is very expensive, is the best investment.

      • RonP

        Someone crunched the numbers in NOLA: http://nolarentalreport.com (highly recommended reading).
        San Francisco is experiencing similar issues.
        It’s all anecdotal for Asheville (but why would it be significantly different?) until someone (AC-T, XPress ???) does the same analysis.

      • Lulz

        LOL, do the numbers. Buy, rent it out to pay for it, cash out down the road lulz. What seems expensive now will look cheap in a decade. Buy several units and that’s actually a nice ROI.

  5. Lawrence Stacey

    The current STR regulations fail to address the full variety of housing situations & should include a process to grant a ‘variance’. There is an STR in my area – it is walking distance to the central government buildings in Asheville; it has no driveway, or convenient parking, no convenient placement of the mobile-toters for garbage. It is an awkward, over-looked, under-utilized little house – but, it is kept in perfect condition by its owners.
    It is ideally suited for STR, has been successfully rented in this manner, & several times it has been utilized by people here on business, not vacation.
    All of us living on the street agree that the owner’s are using the property in a way that is really its ‘highest & best use’.
    In recent comments by candidates for City Council, there has been a distinct lack of understanding regarding the range of issues for STR’s & how an appropriate management program could be implemented. There has been no acknowledgment that STR’s can, in fact, be a positive use of a property.
    The current regulation is a classic failure by government to apply a ‘one-size-fits-all-punishment’. We all need to recognize that it is the ‘Technology Revolution’ that is making STR’s a viable option. A good management solution must embrace a vision for best property use, not simple regulatory control.

  6. OneWhoKnows

    THIS is what liberal progressive city councils produce as they seek MORE and MORE POWER and CONTROL of the people.

    WE the PEOPLE have had quite ENOUGH of this kind of attack on private property rights. City ‘enforcement’ is AGAINST
    state law as the smarter people already KNEW !!! Had clown COUNCIL done their homework they’d have known it too, but
    they are ignorant.

  7. michael blankenship

    I’ve been associated with this neighborhood since 1963. Cecil Botwell does not, is prone to dispering misinformation, studies, data, conculsions that arrive at his destinations to self agrandize. If Cecil says it, I don’t and won’t believe it. Cecil will enlist supporters from all points of the compass that don’t live here everyday, or have a vesed intersest. This blue house was never a tear downer, it was never condemned. I spent 247,000.00 on a complete retrofit of my home down the street 10 years ago, a capital imvestment in my home and my neighborhood. It’s the neighborhood
    not R&R for strangers, our quality of life, public and vehicluar safety. Cecil has no interest in dialogue here , but achieving his imperial aims. Sure, I can lawyer up also and will at the right time, rest assured. ASTRA will morph in to LLC’s and become like the Woods Apartments, totally beyond the accountabity of its neighbors, protected by the Lou Bisset Law firm as the Woods is from the consequences of its neighborhood blight, a lack of parking,: “corporations (LLC’s) are people my friends”. We don’t need this headache, neither does the APD. This idea is an anathema to our neighborhood viability and safety. Now I fully expect one of Cecil’s minions to delete my posts as they have done, are doing., so have at it.

  8. Marc

    Is there actually any good reason why you shouldn’t be allowed to rent out a room or two? This is what people do in a society. There is nothing unusual about it. Why not amend the laws to allow people to rent out their homes to one or two people without any regulation at all. Only have regulation for 3 or more.

    • RonP

      You are allowed to rent out a room or two in your home, just not for periods less than 30 days – otherwise known as a short-term-rental.

      From the NOLA report: “short term rentals reduce the amount of available housing for long term residents while making the housing that is still available more expensive.”

      From actual experience: Out of town money is buying up homes and renting them out to tourists. All of a sudden your quiet residential street turns into a perpetual commercial district with constantly changing rowdy neighbors and a glut of cars parked in the street,

      • Asheville Native

        See my comments above if you want to read a real-world situation from a real resident living in front of a real short term rental. Actually two short-term rentals. The other one is so quiet and out of the way that I never noticed that anyone’s even there.

        Again, I don’t really care if these homes are owned by out-of-towners or in town residents. If what the guests contribute to the local economy is a net positive, then let’s regulate this business and move on with our lives. Be careful who you talk about being good neighbors and bad neighbors. To me, a bad neighbor is somebody who turns in 40 of their fellow residents anonymously.

          • Asheville Native

            RonP, can you explain what exactly the issues are with STR in your neighborhood? And how do you answer the issue with someone turning in 40 homes at once? That person could not possibly know what the situation is like at each of those houses. He/she did it, I expect, because they felt they were doing the right thing for the community. But they have no way of personally knowing whether the homes turned in were doing anything other than helping the neighborhood. But, boy, they must have some free time on their hands. Don’t walk your dog near their yard. They will turn into Mr. Wilson and you will be Dennis the Menace.

          • RonP

            I purchased a home in a residential district, not a commercial/hotel district. STR is a large house with multiple bedrooms right next door. Owners live out of state. Big deck with open back yard. Only rented as entire house. It’s perfect for large groups of people and for large parties. Pick a long weekend and it’s full of guests – bachelor and bachelorette getaways, football game travelers, groups of out-of-town concert and festival goers, you name it. Umpteen cars parked wherever they can find a spot. Loud, boisterous, talking and laughing outside until late at night and early in the morning. Wash. Rinse, Repeat. Have to close my windows so I can sleep. I haven’t called the police (why bother as the “guests” will leave the next day and they probably aren’t technically violating a decibel noise ordinance) and I haven’t reported them as a STR – but I will next spring if it starts up again.

            I can’t “answer the issue with someone turning in 40 homes at once.” That was their prerogative to do. However, after reading the ordinance, the complaint doesn’t need to be for nuisance, it just has to be for operating a STR. The former isn’t necessarily illegal. The latter currently is.

            FWIW, San Francisco is experiencing what Asheville is 10X. They have a ballot measure on Nov 3 called Prop F that would highly restrict and regulate STRs. Do a news search to read more. Something to watch.

  9. Hauntedheadnc

    Residences for the residents, period. Or if you must compromise, rent out a room in a home you are actually living in… Which would disqualify the “Bluebird of Happiness.” Otherwise though, the tourists can go hang.

    • Asheville Native

      Hauntedheadnc, since almost all of our manufacturing moved out in the last 20 years, many of us rely on tourists to provide a living for ourselves and our employees. Our companies provide a solid middle class living for over 70 people. And we are dependent on tourists as well as locals for our revenue. The local economy is more complex than “the tourists can go hang.” If they can stay in more inexpensive lodging, they can spend more in the local economy. If STR guests cause problems, thoughtful regulation can handle that. If homes are in a situation where having short term guests makes no sense, thoughtful regulation can handle that as well. But the reality of most STR (I have seen many of the ones listed on Airbnb and VRBO in person and know many of the owners) is that they tend to be reasonably good for the neighborhoods. By the way, do you all think the long term rentals are all owned by locals? Wake up and smell our locally roasted coffee. Personally, I would rather have 10 STR in my neighborhood than 10 long term rentals. No one wants to say that but it is true. With long term rentals, the owner can’t do maintenance as often and the traffic and noise issues are at least as bad if not worse than with STR. The time constraints of dealing with STR on a daily basis rule out many owners from doing this business anyway.

      • RonP

        So, if or when you would ever sell your home you would ask your real estate agent to advertise and publicize that there are 10 STRs nearby? I’m speculating, but I’d guess if you’d ask any real estate agent if that was a good idea they would say “NOOOOOOOO!!!” (unless you wanted to attract a buyer for STR #11.).

        • Asheville Native

          RonP – that comment doesn’t really make any sense. Would you publicize that you have an alcoholic that lives next door that yells at his wife three nights a week? Or a long term rental that has a nice couple living in it, but the smoke marijuana every day and have parties every other week? (The second one is true in my neighborhood by the way.) And I wouldn’t worry about the STR in my neighborhood because, like I have said, there is no issue with those guests. I have this feeling that you have either had one bad experience with an STR, or you are just a fearful person. Do you think I would take a chance on hurting my property value by having an STR right across the street? It has only helped my property value. And the problem is not with noise or traffic generally. It is the exact opposite. In the business months, when we were still renting the house, it sat empty at least 3 days a week. Is that a problem for you?

          • RonP

            Thanks! You just made my argument for me! Although there may be exceptions (your street), in general, it would not be a net positive to let potential buyers of your home know that there are numerous STRs in the neighborhood. Close to schools – PLUS. Close to a park – PLUS. Walking distance to downtown – PLUS. Near several short term rentals – NEGATIVE.

            I think that reveals all one needs to know about the pros and cons of STRs.

          • Asheville Native

            RonP – my point is that it would be like saying to someone “Oh I have 7 long term rentals in the neighborhood.” It would not be mentioned but not avoided. But to be more clear for you, if I was looking at a house and the realtor said “There are three STR homes in the neighborhood” it would not have a negative effect on my choice of the home whatsoever. It would mean generally the neighborhood would be quieter, there would less traffic and the homes around me would be generally more well kept. Does that clarify my thoughts about STR and them being near me? Because, unless it was not clear, I have one directly across from me and 1/2 block away and the effect on my home is positive.

          • RonP

            AN – Again. You made my point for me. You likened informing potential buyers that there are numerous STRs nearby to having an alcoholic neighbor and a drug house (paraphrasing your words). So, it’s a positive thing to proactively mention about schools and parks and accessibility but shhhhhhh, don’t reveal the STRs (unless the buyers ask) for fear of turning them off. Hmmm. Why would that be?

      • hauntedheadnc

        Native, I am well aware that our economy is both dependent upon outside money — mainly because we lack the creativity or political will to build our own moneymaking ventures — as well as more complex than simple tourism.

        Fact is though, I’m all for being able to rent out a room in your personal house. What I am not for is the potential for entire neighborhoods to be bought up and run as open-air resorts. Increasingly, the neighborhoods that make Asheville “Asheville” are serving as set pieces for people who don’t even live here, while the actual people who make this city run commute in from the sprawl. I do not support that, and I do not support the removal of housing stock that could be serving residents being taken offline to serve as a false front backdrop for tourists.

  10. Joseph Allawos

    Simple solution.
    1) You must be a Buncombe county resident.
    2) If you are, you may operate ONE short term vacation rental on the property you own.
    This eliminates all the out of towners that are clearly taking advantage of the situation without punishing those folks that depend on the income to survive in Asheville; Like my friend for instance, who is a single mom and full time french teacher who uses the income from her STR to survive in a place with the highest cost of living in the state. She is one of those who just got cited and it SUX.

  11. RonP

    It’s almost Halloween so here’s a scary picture. It’s an aggregate of 22 STR websites showing all STR properties with an Asheville address (caveat – they’re not necessarily within the city limits): https://zilyo.com/places/Asheville–NC–United-States

    For comparison and a reality check, type in Hendersonville or Johnson City or Charlotte or Raleigh.

    That, people, is why there’s no affordable rental housing in Asheville. What will LTR availability and rental rates be when the Asheville STR number doubles from 750 to 1500?

    • Lulz

      LOL, in my neck of the woods it’s UNCA students. So are we to also ban them from renting and force them to stay on campus lulz??? Are they in fact not the same as STR’s lulz???

      • Ron

        Assume most UNCA students attend and live in the same place for more than 30 days. But, perhaps not.

  12. My husband and I bought and renovated an urban loft condominium in downtown Asheville more than 10 years ago. We hired a local artist, a local woodworker to make custom cabinets, bought stone from a local outlet, appliances locally, etc., etc., hired a local property manager, so we contributed plenty to the local economy. At the time, we lived in England, now we live in New York City. So we fit your definitions of out-of-towners.

    We sold the condo last year because we want a retirement home with outside space and a view of the mountains, so we are building a new, custom home north of downtown. We’ve hired a local architect, a local builder and, again, we’ll be sourcing all of our materials locally. While we owned the condo, we followed local law and our condo association rules; the latter was even more restrictive. It required long-term rentals of at least six months. It was much more difficult to find long-term renters than short-term, but we wanted to comply with the law and continue to be friendly with the neighbors in our building.

    My conclusions? 1) Out-of-towners and tourists contribute a lot to the Asheville economy. 2) Avoid the trap of painting people with the same broad brush. Some of us do follow the law and care about local people. 3) On balance, it has to be a good thing that “outsiders” want to come to Asheville to visit and live. 4) Do your due diligence. Read and understand the law and other neighborhood or building provisions. and 5) Follow the law. Think beyond the end of your nose (or your wallet). Be good, caring neighbors.

    The “uberization” of our economy has already happened and is accelerating. Asheville and many other communities are facing the issues that arise from online supply and demand apps and websites like airbnb and many others. The shortage of affordable housing locally seems like a big and growing issue. Therefore, I applaud the willingness of local government officials and community leaders to address these issues.

  13. henry

    Need to find a place to poop, you can “uberize” that too. https://www.sitorsquat.com. What a load of crap that is. Let’s turn every aspect of our lives into a rental possibility. You can earn a monthly fee by allowing voyeurs to watch you on cameras installed everywhere in your home 24/7. Why not rent out your pets on the weekends to people who don’t want to keep one full time. The possibilities are endless. It’s those that run these find any thing for rent sites that are making the money. STRs reduce the cohesiveness of neighborhoods. I’m not part of renting the atmosphere that we created in our neighborhood.

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