Victoria “Vic” Isley, the new president and CEO of the Explore Asheville Convention and Visitors Bureau, says new paid advertising for Asheville, an expansion of the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority board to include short-term rental owners and changes to occupancy tax allocation are all on the table in 2021.
While overall hotel revenue was down more than 27% year-over-year in September, the latest month for which data is available, overall vacation rental sales that month increased by about 55% year-over-year, according to Explore Asheville interim CEO Chris Cavanaugh.
Asheville’s current short-term rental rules do not allow homestays to offer rooms that contain either a stove, a full-sized refrigerator or a kitchen sink. A new definition of “kitchen,” proposed by local host organization the Homestay Network, would still forbid stoves in homestay dwellings but allow sinks and refrigerators.
Despite relatively restrictive ordinances prohibiting the rental of entire houses for stays of less than 30 days — and a $500-per-day fine for violators — hundreds of illegal rentals still operate throughout the city of Asheville.
Funded by a $60,000 grant from Duke Energy’s Water Resources Fund and developed by city staff in conjunction with Asheville GreenWorks and RiverLink, the plan lays out environmental and aesthetic projects such as stormwater control, invasive species removal, wildlife habitat construction and an ecological mural.
Reid Thompson has lost the most recent battle in his 13-plus-year fight with the city of Asheville. But the war, suggested Thompson’s representative and urban planner Joe Minicozzi, is far from over. “He’s got to file a civil suit to get his civil rights upheld,” Minicozzi said. “You can’t enforce the law on one side of the street and not enforce it on the other.”
Reid Thompson, the owner of 28 and 32 Maxwell St., seeks to rezone those properties from residential to lodging expansion, thereby allowing their short-term vacation rental use — because the activity of Greenlife Grocery, he says, has made it impossible for him to keep long-term tenants.
Asheville City Council appears committed to holding the city’s line on any potential expansion of short-term rentals. Council members put the kibosh on a proposal to allow short-term rentals on a stretch of Haywood Road in West Asheville, while also instructing city staff to explore banning the practice in all areas of the city, including the River Arts District and downtown. Homestays, a type of accommodation where the primary resident is home during a guest’s short-term stay, would remain legal.
Who can afford to live here and how can we all live together? Those questions formed the crux of the conversation among Asheville City Council candidates at a Sept. 18 forum where two issues garnered strong and varying viewpoints: the lack of affordable housing and persistent racial tensions in Asheville.
“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.”
“Deplorably, the writer supporting short-term rentals is ignorant about what the untold value of a good neighbor is, the immeasurable effect a close neighborhood has on one’s quality of life, and how short-term rentals contribute to anxiety, malaise and most likely to lowering home values in the area.”
“Consider the ‘erosion of the fabric of our neighborhoods’ argument frequently cited to uphold the ban on STRs. Are we talking about borrowing a cup of stevia, sharing limited parking and trading garden flowers? Let’s stop envisaging the Portlandia version of Asheville neighborhoods.”
Disputes over what kinds of residential arrangements should be eligible for the city’s homestay rental program seem likely to get an airing when City Council hears a report on the findings of a task force devoted to that issue at its regular meeting on Dec. 13.
“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?”
Short-term rental issues returned to Council chambers as the city’s elected officials considered allowing the use of accessory units for homestays. While Council decided not to approve the proposed expansion of the homestay program, it will appoint a task force to study the issue and make recommendations.
The debate over short-term rentals continues on May 4 at City Hall. The Planning & Zoning Commission will vote on a proposed zoning amendment to include accessory dwelling units in the city’s homestay ordinance.
“Neighborhoods with character, walkable to city centers — parks and playgrounds, and of the size families need — will no longer be neighborhoods inclusive of families.”
The next shot has been fired in the long-running battle over short-term vacation rentals. A group of property owners has filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of the city’s prohibition on vacation rentals of less than 30 days.
“There are no one-size-fits-all solutions in planning: Each place is very different,” says Todd Okolichany, who began work as Asheville’s new planning director Sept. 8. “That’s a key value for me as a planner: recognizing the differences and uniqueness of each place.” Okolichany, 36, comes to Asheville from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where he was principal […]
“Creating meaningful tourism creates closeness with the visitors and a connection to the community visitors would otherwise miss out on.”
“Residential zoning is there for a reason. People who have chosen to live in quiet, residential subdivisions within the city limits do not want to suddenly find that they are living next door to a mini-hotel.”