Letter writer: Compromise needed on ADUs

Graphic by Lori Deaton

The people of Asheville support vacation rentals because we are the demographic that enjoys that type of accommodation when we travel.  That is why we voted 3-to-1 in favor of accessory dwelling units as vacations rentals in Asheville.gov’s first online survey.

I assume the anti-short-term-rental neighborhood associations had all their members fill out the survey, and still a large majority chose to support allowing STRs in ADUs. We have heard from the opponents of short-term rentals in accessory dwelling units. Their arguments are largely based on what-if scenarios and false statements that an ADU rental is somehow fundamentally different than a homestay.

Can someone explain to me how it changes the complexion of my neighborhood if a tourist parks in my gravel lot and enters the rear ADU building instead of entering my home? That is misleading and false, and the purveyors of these statements need to be held accountable for their lies. They act like they are the homeowners association for all of Asheville.

The citizens of Asheville spoke clearly in the last couple of elections about how they feel about council members who hold uncompromising positions. The STR issue hasn’t gone away because Council bungled the first attempt and was led into a radical position.

It is time for compromise. I don’t speak for any organization but would like to point out that Council should be looking at ways to answer the calls of the people who want this, while finding ways to divert the taxes to other projects that are actually important. Use increased revenues to divert funds to sidewalks or affordable housing. Now that would be a great way to keep homeowners happy while addressing a need.

My call to Council is to listen to your constituents and to address the issue through creative compromise.

— Austin Hill
Asheville

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6 thoughts on “Letter writer: Compromise needed on ADUs

  1. Scott

    Austin – I suggest you spend a few days visiting the Outerbanks to see and experience what a STR town looks like. Then get back to us. Me thinks you’ll then understand how STRs change the complexion of (destroy) neighborhoods. Thanks. Scott

  2. The Real World

    Nope, sorry Scott. Rarely is it a good plan to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    An ‘all or none’ approach is a lazy way to deal with anything. STR’s can and should be part of the choices available to both visitors and homeowners. But adequate consideration, structuring and limits are required for it to succeed. A task force is being put together now by the city to study the subject in detail.

    • Scott

      So we agree that allowing Asheville to transform (organically or via regulation) into OBX is a bad thing. Need to be clear on that because there are folks who will say there’s nothing wrong with OBX because it’s what property rights and free market should allow.

  3. The Real World

    I was in the beautiful Outer Banks over 20 years ago so I can’t comment on what’s happening there now. But, I get your drift.

    AVL city is going to study it and I’m sure that will turn up plenty of worthy info to consider about how to structure it. Perhaps they will deduce something as simple as: only one STR per property (be it a bedroom, finished basement or garage apartment) with homeowner on premises, a city license and pay taxes on the rental nights.

    • Scott

      The Outer Banks is now rows and rows and rows of streets that are nearly 100% STRs. Trash cans and recycling cans line the streets 365 because none of the tourists know when trash day is. LTR rent is out of sight, even for properties way off the ocean because why would any property owner rent at an LTR rate when he can get a STR rate?

      My suggestion for the TBD task force is setting a max number of STRs for the entire city and you “purchase” a permit to operate an STR. When they’re gone they’re gone until someone turns in their permit (similar to how some states/counties control liquor licenses). That max number would be set to allow an STR business opportunity for those who want it but still negligibly impact LTR rents (statisticians, actuaries, and economists above my pay grade could figure out the proper max number). That max number could be reviewed and adjusted up or down over time as the “experiment” plays out. Of course enforcement to prevent scofflaws would need to be mandatory else there’s no reason for anyone to be legal.

      • Austin Hill

        Scott, your suggestion is exactly the kind of creative compromise I am hoping for. Thank you for engaging.

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