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