Asheville City Council, [should not] issue the $25 million housing bonds if [they] vote to use our existing whole homes as hotels. The bonds passed by a large margin. This is your proof that the citizens want more, not less housing. Building homes with bond money and then changing zoning to allow an equal or greater number of homes to be converted for use as hotels is fiscally irresponsible. We have a choice to make here: We either need more housing or we don’t.
Council member [Cecil] Bothwell is leading the charge to convert residential-zoned homes such as garage apartments to be used as short-term rentals for tourists. The next step is to allow whole single-family homes to be run as STRs. According to Bothwell, “We can’t control it unless it is legalized.”
I reject this and stand with those who are on the side of housing for citizens, not tourists. City staff, Planning and Zoning, the ADU Task Force, neighborhood associations and advocates of affordable housing all speak clearly against using entire homes as hotels. Let’s face this fact: Accessory dwelling units are real homes for our neighbors. Enacting policies allowing landlords to displace citizens for higher-paying tourists would be a step backward in addressing the housing crisis.
We can and are enforcing the existing rules. This is not a waste of money when you do the math and see how much it costs us as taxpayers to create units of housing. Every unit not used as an STR is one more potential unit of housing for a citizen to call home. We need to enforce the rules in place today or we will end up losing hundreds of homes converted to sheltering tourists. This is clearly what Bothwell is advocating for — the conversion of homes to hotels.
Jackson Tierney and John Farquhar have certainly made their case to Bothwell and here in the Mountain Xpress a few weeks ago [“Backyard Bungalows: Easing ADU Limits Will Boost Long-Term Rental Stock,” Jan. 4]. These two men bought homes in 2014 that had ADUs used as long-term rentals and now they want to change our policies to run hotels.
Are Tierney and Farquhar the poster boys of what we want folks to do with our housing stock? They are not impoverished individuals scraping by. … They want to put their own self-interests and profits above the greater needs of the community. It’s their right to do what they want within the limits of the zoning, and I understand not wanting to have a long-term tenant in the backyard. It is their right not to be landlords. I reject the “I am entitled to do whatever I want” attitude displayed in these men’s arguments about running a hotel in their backyards.
We have policies in place for many reasons. One is to help preserve what housing we have for use sheltering citizens. We really can’t afford to allow hundreds or thousands of homes to be converted to hotels. Thousands may sound like crazy talk, but how many hotel rooms have been built in the last five years? What is the trend line here?
If you feel the same, please let your City Council know. The folks wanting to run hotels in residential neighborhoods are well-organized and vocal. They are not the majority, but it seems that way when they show up at City Council meetings. They are advocating for policies to put their personal self-interest and profits above that of the community by converting homes to hotels. We have a choice to make. We either need more housing or we don’t.
— David L. Rodgers
Real estate broker, investor and member of the ADU Task Force