Letter writer: Comply with law in short-term rentals

Graphic by Lori Deaton

I have been a real estate broker, property manager and investment property owner since 1984. I agree completely with Alan [Escovitz, “Neighborhood Group Opposes Expansion of Homestays,” April 27, Xpress].

There is nothing wrong with short-term rentals. As a matter of fact, I currently own a vacation rental home at Lake Keowee. When I was searching for the property, the zoning was as important, or more important, as any other property feature on my must-have list. I bought in an area zoned for short-term rentals. I didn’t try to sneak into The Cliffs or restricted developments, then try to rent my home by the week. If I had, the community would issue a cease and desist [order], then impose a stiff fine, just like the city of Asheville should be doing.

Zoning is enforced in every major city that has a growth plan. Without zoning, buying anything would always be a crapshoot. The city of Asheville already has single-family, residential-use zoning. They just need to enforce it. No one should have the right to open a hotel-like business in a family-zoned neighborhood unless a zoning variance is issued.

If you want to make extra money in short-term rentals, please go right ahead. Just comply with existing law and buy in the county or in an area zoned for that purpose. The law of highest and best use for zoned property defines location when buying real estate.

— Tommi Crow
Asheville

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27 thoughts on “Letter writer: Comply with law in short-term rentals

  1. long time resident

    Hey Tommi, just to bring you up to speed from your 50’s mindset:
    Traditionally, human settlements have developed in mixed-use patterns. However, with industrialisation as well as the invention of the skyscraper, governmental zoning regulations were introduced to separate different functions, such as manufacturing, from residential areas. In the United States, the heyday of separate-use zoning in the U.S. was after World War II, but since the 1990s, mixed-use zoning has once again become desirable as the benefits are recognized. These benefits include:[3]

    greater housing variety and density
    reduced distances between housing, workplaces, retail businesses, and other destinations
    more compact development
    stronger neighborhood character
    pedestrian and bicycle-friendly environments

    • Marge

      Tommi, I politely disagree with you. “Residential” neighborhoods, such as five points as an example has numerous businesses mixed in with the residential homes. My West Asheville home has several churches in it that are certainly not residential. I believe your argument doesn’t ring true to reality. Also, perhaps you are not thinking of many long term residents of Asheville who are able to make ends meet from their accessory unit. I have seen zero negative impact of neighborhoods from a str that is inhabited by the owner of the home/property. Please reconsider your position and those in the GLBTQ community that your view will hurt.

      • The Took

        Not that I agree with Tommi’s position but how exactly does his view hurt the alphabet community?

        • James L. Smith

          Yes, I agree. What does STR or the lack of STR in a neighborhood have to do w/LGBTQ? Nothing, I would say.

          People who live long-term in a community want quality of life, quiet enjoyment, long-term relationships with their neighbors, playing children, and that intangible feelings and pleasantries of home.

          You don’t have that, and it is taken from you when houses in a family neighborhood are transformed into commercial hotels. You get a strip mall of commercialism that erodes the neighborhood quality of life. My home is not so much my investment as it is a safe and happy environment I share with my neighbors I see and greet every day. You have to have one of those nuisance motels next door to understand how the neighborhood is now blighted with a nuisance.

          But then, that’s why we have zoning laws — to prevent that blight.

      • James L. Smith

        5 Points has never been a residential neighborhood. It’s always been mixed and I’m over 70 years old.

  2. Jason

    “One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”
    -Martin Luther King Jr.

    • Long term home owner and neighborhood advocate

      Disagree with Tommi. The city council election results shows the majority of Asheville does as well. Five points is a great neighborhood for owners and visitors alike. The city had allowed so many businesses here the zoning argument is a joke

      • Wishing for adequate housing for everybody

        Long term home owner, I agree with you. As has been said, so does the vast majority of Asheville as evidenced in any poll they have done and the vast majority of those who responded and were for short term rentals where the owner lived at the property were people who DO NOT themselves own vacation rentals. I live in Five Points across from a tow truck facility that takes cars to it all night long as well as a restaurant supply store and these are not on the edge of the neighborhood but smack dab in the middle. My neighborhood has never followed it’s own zoning. And even for those that do, in a city where wages do not match housing costs we cannot be taking away homeowners’ only means of staying in true single family homes or we will have only the wealthy and rentals in our neighborhoods. Short term rentals make it possible for lower income folks to own or rent a full home here. Have a heart.

      • NFB

        “The city council election results shows the majority of Asheville does as well. ”

        They show no such thing. Turnout was only about 15%. That is nowhere near a majority of registered voters, let alone the “majority of Asheville.”

        • Neighborhood advocate

          Everyone has a chance to vote. You can’t say because turnout was low that who we elected doesn’t count.

        • James L. Smith

          City Council voted against expanding STR’s in 2016. A special group of citizens appointed by Council had investigated the feasibility of expanding STR’s, went out into the communities and asked questions, and returned recommending against it, so at the time the Mayor, Councilperson Smith, Councilperson Wisler, and Councilperson Mayfield voted against the expansion. Voting the other way were Bothwell, Haynes, and Young.

          Now apparently the mayor has flipped and wants to expand STR’s to an apartment under the roof of a house. She had it on the agenda for April 25 but it was mysteriously removed at the last minute.

          If you ask, most homeowners will tell you they don’t want their neighborhoods tampered with. They do not agree with changing the zoning laws. Outsiders do, but they don’t. Take your own polls and see. I have and the overwhelming majority do not want STR’s.

  3. NFB

    “Short term rentals make it possible for lower income folks to own or rent a full home here.”

    Short term rentals take housing off the market for residences and thus drive up housing costs even further in what is already a crisis of affordable housing in Asheville making it harder (and in increasing cases) impossible for lower income folks to own or rent here.

    • neighborhood advocate

      you are assuming that these would change to long term rentals, many would not

    • Neighborhood advocate

      No they don’t. They add income to lower income folks. Those opposed don’t understand that not allowing them takes income away from the working class.

      • luther blissett

        “They add income to lower income folks.”

        Lower income *property owners*, which makes them not necessarily very lower-income in a city where half the residents are renters. The idea that they’re simultaneously “working class” and rentiers is especially hilarious.

        This is AirBnB-sponsored BS. If you own property want rental income, then actually have tenants, instead of cheating.

  4. Confused

    Asheville is one of the few if not the only city that zoning is so messed up. You would never see zoning in Raleigh or other cities with a $400,000 home next to a abandoned 100 year old single wide. You would never see a wrecker service or restaurant smack dab in the middle or a residential neighborhood. This is part of what makes Asheville so unique. The problem with the rentals now is that there really has never been a zoning enforcement until now. With that, the zoning committee nor the city council seems to really cut and dry answers about this. If you start asking questions, you will find that no one really has a real answer. Even if your in a zoned area that allows short term rentals, no one seems to be able to give you exact answers. This is such a new undertaking for the city of Ashveville, it is going to take a long time to iron out.

    • James L. Smith

      Where is a $400,000 home in Asheville next to an abandoned single-wide? You will not find house trailers in residential communities in Asheville’s single-family zoned neighborhoods.

  5. Home owner

    If you are going to allow Homestays, then adding ADUs seems logical. It isn’t that far off. There is a property owner on the property. The city has already allowed Homestays and we are not experiencing major problems with that. These opposers have absolutely no data or even cases of problems with neighborhoods turning into businesses.

    • James L. Smith

      You just happen to be very wrong about that. In my experience Homestay permit owners violate the Homestay ordinance by renting by the night, going off and leaving the customers in the house, calling an ADU a homestay when it is really an STR complete with full kitchen and separate entrance. Putting signs in the yard, operating a nuisance which disturbs neighbors, and causing the tenants to have to park in the street are also common violations.

      I’m with the other commenter in this queue who smells something fishy. I smell a lot of AirBnB propaganda here from some very poor propagandists.

    • luther blissett

      Yes you will be shut down and fined $500 for every day you’ve cheated the city and its other residents.

  6. Cool Cabin

    My detached ADU is just as much part of my home as a room rented out as a home stay. I use it regularly.

    I am middle class, struggling to pay my own student debt. I have personally worked very hard to create that house from a shack, so that I can increase my own living space, and have income from it as well. It is my best chance at “the American Dream”.

    To make a law that prohibits me from doing what I want with that building is un-American!

    There is no real reason I should not be able to rent it short term. It is NOT low-income housing, and it never would have been! I do not want long term renters on my land!

    • luther blissett

      “To make a law that prohibits me from doing what I want with that building is un-American!”

      Also you should be able to drive 90 on the highway with a pint of moonshine in your cupholder b/c Murka.

      If you want tourists staying on your property, register as a hotel and pay the taxes; if you want to be a landlord, then you’ll need to take long-term tenants. Stop being a cheat.

  7. Tracy Rose

    Gillian: That comment falls under the category of inflammatory and will be deleted.

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