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.”
“The area is now so expensive and gentrified on its own appeal and expanding population that implicating Airbnb is a convenient exaggeration to justify intervention.”
“While the Asheville economic/political machine can’t seem to build hotels fast enough, Airbnb accommodates the overflow of tourists who come and feed many other facets of our economy.”
“This article could have been titled, ‘Leveling the playing field in favor of HomeAway and VRBO.'”
” The concern and resistance from the hotel and bed-and-breakfast industry about individual residents listing rooms for short-term rental on Airbnb or other similar sites is overstated and unwarranted.”