Letter writer: Allow short-term rentals to keep money in local community

Graphic by Lori Deaton

To … all those folks who want to ban short-term rentals like Airbnb: Keep in mind [that] most, if not all, of the money collected for rent stays local, unlike big-box hotels, where most of the money leaves Asheville.

Because of the affordable price, folks who stay at an Airbnb have more money to spend on eating out and buying from the local shops.

I’ve always been led to believe we live in a free-market system. As long as those who rent out rooms pay the same taxes (room and sales tax) as the hotels do, they should be allowed to supplement their income in an area that has become unaffordable to live in by folks who live here full time.

— Sharon Dagiel
Weaverville

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17 thoughts on “Letter writer: Allow short-term rentals to keep money in local community

  1. ashevillain7

    “most, if not all, of the money collected for rent stays local”

    You’re kidding yourself if you don’t think investors from out of town/state are buying up residential properties to use as short-term rentals.

    • NFB

      “You’re kidding yourself if you don’t think investors from out of town/state are buying up residential properties to use as short-term rentals.”

      Spot on, and allowing short term rentals will encourage even more out of town investors to buy up more property for that purpose thus driving already high housing costs up even more. Short term rentals are among the reasons the area, in the words of the letter writer “has become unaffordable to live in by folks who live here full time.”

      In any case, why is someone from Weaverville telling Asheville what it should be doing?

      • jc

        Who do you think owns the hotels?! Locals? I regularly visit Asheville and almost always stay airbnb. Because of the residential nature of these, I’ve been able to explore neighborhoods outside the traditional tourist areas and have more money left to spend in local businesses. But go ahead, make it harder to promote and sustain some of your top industries (tourism, arts, service/retail); hand it all over to out-of-town and -state corporations. All those rentals you think will suddenly become available if airbnb is banned won’t matter much if the people who would be living in them can’t find a job.

        • NFB

          “All those rentals you think will suddenly become available if airbnb is banned won’t matter much if the people who would be living in them can’t find a job.”

          And none of those jobs won’t matter much if the people in them can’t find a place to live because so many houses are being used for short term rentals.

          I’m glad you have enjoyed your stays in Asheville, but the fact of the matter is that there is very little affordable housing for the people who served you in the restaurants where you ate, or who helped you in the store you shopped in. It has reached a crisis level and it is time local officials start thinking about the people who live here 12 months out of the year, rather than just tourists, second home owners, and real estate investors.

          And yes, there ARE locally owned hotels here.

          • jc

            Mountain Inn or some other hole-in-the-wall motel on Tunnel Rd., Brookstone Lodge, how many others? Meanwhile, Hotel Indigo, ALOFT, and all the chains off the interstates continue to be built. We have a similar issue going on in the city I live in — I suspect that, like here and many other cities where this debate rages, the main push-back comes from hotel owners and those with a vested interest in them. Put some limits on the number of short-term rentals within a given area, require owners to pay taxes as hotels do, and look into whether or not it’s possible/legal to require that short-term rental owners live in the area, but don’t ban the practice altogether.

            Also, out of curiosity, how long has there been a shortage of rental property in Asheville? Because I’ve been hearing about it almost as long as I’ve been going there (15+ years). I assume that’s why the cookie-cutter apartments/condos keep popping up everywhere. Maybe there is more to it than just short-term rental regulation, no?

          • ashevillain7

            There definitely has not been a rental shortage going back 15 years. I don’t know what you’ve been hearing that told you that. It’s definitely not the case.

            It was maybe 4-5 years ago when it started to become a problem and really only the past year or two where it’s got to the current (very problematic) 1% vacancy rate.

  2. Dionysis

    “I’ve always been led to believe we live in a free-market system.”

    Yes, we’ve all been indoctrinated in this false notion from day one. It’s untrue. We have crony capitalism, which is far removed from a real free market. All businesses are amoral, with one goal only, which is to maximize profit. Any business will seek to kill any competition immediately, and with the help of paid off lackeys (aka ‘politicians’), they have been quite successful. Ask Tesla Motors if they’re operating in a free market. The auto dealerships that come between the manufacturer and customer have successfully blocked Tesla from any sales venue except on-line. This is only among the highest profile, current examples. For an illuminating assessment of the falacy of the ‘free market’ in America, read this:

    http://climateandcapitalism.com/2013/02/28/like-unicorns-the-free-market-is-a-myth/

  3. OneWhoKnows

    yes demopublicans like Bill Clinton and GHWBush have furthered destroyed what was left of advantageous capitalism in
    America. Now, we have corrupt and criminal democrat commissioners and others who pick and choose winners for the stolen
    tax money they give to profit makers. Yes, David Gantt and Co are criminals.

    • Dionysis

      Actually, it goes much further back. Consider:

      ‘For most of US history, crony capitalism has been in a struggle with free-market capitalism for the heart and soul of the American economy. For the past half century, crony capitalism has been gaining the upper hand. There are many reasons why, all of which can be traced to the insatiable desire of the state to gain and hold power.

      As Bob Higgs has pointed out in a lifetime of scholarship, crises are the health of the state. Whether these crises are unavoidable or manufactured by the state, either deliberately or through mere bungling, the state rarely misses an opportunity to use them to its advantage.

      David Stockman’s recent book, The Great Deformation, escorts the reader through a welter of ideas, institutions, and crises that the state did, indeed, use to its advantage to funnel billions of dollars from the general public into the pockets of the well-connected. Stockman’s chief culprits are the ideas of Fisher, Keynes, and Friedman; the institutions of the Federal Reserve System and the presidency; the crises of the Great Depression; the run on US gold of the late 60s; the stock market crash of 1987; and the financial crisis of 2008, to name a few…

      …David Stockman’s book stands out in that the author, as a policy insider in the Reagan administration, saw the phenomenon up close and offers a wealth of detail to which only an insider would be privy.

      While the problem of crony capitalism has been around since states have had favors to dispense, interest in the problem has grown in recent years. Part of this is terminology — the alliterative and finger-pointing nature of “crony capitalism” grabs the attention of general audiences much better than the more neutral sounding “rent-seeking.” But much of it is because the practice of crony capitalism has become so much more blatant in recent years, giving rise to burgeoning research on the topic. ”

      http://academy.mises.org/courses/age_crony/

    • OneWhoKnows

      ‘criminal’ in the ways they give away hard earned tax money to businesses and non profits who grovel at their feet…their recent giveaways and backroom deals on county real estate are ‘criminal’ . YES. ,,, but that is how nasty demopublicans operate these days…when will you people catch on to the taxpayer thievery ?

    • RedHotPoker

      ‘criminal’ in the ways they give away hard earned tax money to businesses and non profits who grovel at their feet…their recent giveaways and backroom deals on county real estate are ‘criminal’ . YES. ,,, but that is how nasty demopublicans operate these days…when will you people catch on to the taxpayer thievery ?

  4. Tracy Rose

    Xpress encourages a lively debate, but please, no personal attacks.

    • NFB

      “Xpress encourages a lively debate, but please, no personal attacks.”

      Does that include calling people “Criminals?”

      • Jeff Fobes

        Good question, NFB. We discussed this among some of our editors and found none of us was comfortable with calling someone a criminal unless they’ve been convicted. But when directed at elected officials, the courts let people say a lot of things they that would trigger a libel suit in the case of private individuals because the law puts makes it much harder to prove libel against such officials. The commenter above called various elected officials criminals, and we decided the accusation was regarding the officials’ professional conduct, not their personal conduct. In that context, court decisions have put first importance on protecting and encouraging civic dialogue (First Amendment), and second importance to protecting the reputation of elected government officials. We let that be our guide. But it was a close call.

  5. unilocal

    i want to thank the commentors for this lesson on capitalism. now that y’all have said all the negatives, who’s offering any positive solutions?

  6. Facts are these–Asheville is largely screwed and past the tipping point as a truly wonderful place to reside. As in be a resident. Why? The things which come along with becoming a tourist mecca will leave it soulless. The Floridians are already in Asheville, folks. Airbnb and like services sets up pricing of real estate more for the revenue it can generate for investors–interest rates are low, occupancy rates of long term rental property are sky high. The money will go out of state primarily, real estate prices will rise as they relate to short term rental revenues, neighborhoods which might otherwise survive will be gutted by a rotating group of short term renters. Some of those people will cause serious inconveniences and obstacles for the unfortunate residents who live next to the absentee or seasonal owner rental property. We just sold our house in Asheville. To Floridians from the shiny SE coast, who own another property here too. Hmmm. We thought our neighborhood protected against short term rentals. It doesn’t. We got the hell out. The first seasonal Floridians from the shiny SE coast who bought in our former neighborhood came in guns blazing, lawyers (which they are themselves) insisting their supposedly long term only rental property be opened up to whatever made them the most money. We started the process a few years ago of considering where to live to be protected from these kinds of people and what it meant to the neighborhood. We now rent (long term rental contract on a property which has long been rented that way, so ironically are protected from a transient neighborhood by the terms of our rental property in ways property ownership couldn’t protect us) and take a wait and see attitude about Asheville as a place to actually reside rather than visit. All this discussion of capitalism is nonsense. Allow airbnb etc in non-owner occupied properties and do so at your peril. Short term rental systems which allow the indirect transfer of costs, quality of life, safety from absentee property owners to neighbors who haven’t agreed to absorb those costs is what you’ll get. That and housing prices through the roof, property taxes continue to rise, and no one who actually lives in Asheville can readily enjoy the little city center we are all supporting because there’s no place to park. Think before tipping the balance entirely toward investors and tourists. Find a balance. And yes, the look of aloft is an abomination. The blue neon is a sickening sight each time I exit the tunnel.

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