Asheville City Council ready to suppress whole-house short-term rentals citywide

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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Asheville City Council stands ready to suppress the short-term rental of whole houses across the city, Councilwoman Julie Mayfield said Wednesday morning.

City Council plans to stop, as a use by right, the rental of whole houses on a short-term basis, Mayfield told the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority during its regularly monthly meeting Wednesday. Mayfield is an ex-officio member of the tourism authority and spoke during a portion of the meeting devoted to updates from her and her county colleague, Buncombe County Commission Joe Belcher.

Under the proposal, anyone who wanted the whole-house short-term rental could still seek City Council approval, Mayfield said. The city would grandfather in all current, legally permitted whole house rentals, she said. Council may vote on the issue at its Jan. 9 meeting, she added.

City Council has been inching toward the citywide crackdown over the past couple of years. City Council has approved rules that made it somewhat easier for people to rent out rooms inside their homes (called a homestay). And City Council increased fines for illegal short term rental operators (those operating without city permits). It has also stepped up the enforcement of its rules, which had previously only been done on a complaint-driven basis.

Over the past two months, City Council has voted to stop allowing the rental of whole houses as a use by right in both the River Arts District and along the Haywood Road corridor in West Asheville.

Mayfield told the TDA that City Council members have been alarmed at the rate at which the developers of downtown residential projects – namely apartment and condo buildings  – are seeking permission to allow short-term rentals. (Earlier this year, in an effort to more firmly control the proliferation of new hotels, council members approved a regulation requiring any lodging use of 21 or more rooms to go before them for final approval. Developers of new projects are keeping their short-term rental totals just below that magic 21 number.) It’s the same concern that the Asheville Downtown Commission discussed at length last month, and again last week.

More than 60 condo/apartment units in downtown have been converted from purely residential to a short-term rental use, Mayfield reported. Outside the central business district, some 40 units have been converted. Those numbers, reported to members of Asheville City Council’s planning and economic development committee, are most certainly low, she added. In addition, three new apartment/condo projects that met initial city approval as residential projects went back to ask for permits for short-term rental uses, she said.

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

  • 1

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  1. Beverly-Hanks December 26, 2017

    Could this be a way to help promote Missing Middle housing in the area? Or does it just distract from it?

  2. Helen December 22, 2017

    STR completely hollow out a city, and a neighborhood. Houses and apartments should have people living in them all year. Asheville is for the people who live and work here. By all means you can visit and enjoy it, but stay in a hotel. The most recent hotel that opened is charging $132, this is not GREED. Out of town owners who buy up all the real estate and turn their investments into lodging is GREED. Where are all the people that work in the restaurants meant to live, oh they can live in a mobile park half an hour away, who cares! I am distressed Council is considering grandfathering in existing ones, there are whole buildings currently STR. If you are wealthy enough to purchase additional homes, just pay for them and get over it.

    1. el cheapo December 24, 2017

      most str’s are less than $100, so for the smart people that want a cheaper getaway to a nice place, thats the way to go. Hotels are not for everyone, there are choices of places to stay these days

  3. BMacAVL December 21, 2017

    @hauntedheadnc – You(or someone close to you) must have invested interest into hotels or other Asheville targeted real estate ventures judging by your full support to basically “crap” on property owners rights.

    These “glorified hotel suites” are you so eloquently put it…are not the case with most of the STR’s I have seen. They have kitchens, sitting space, in many cases outdoor space which are far superior to what is being built right now by developers who couldn’t care less about OUR CITY beyond making sure the absolute maximum number of hotel rooms are booked to make them money each and everyday…meanwhile folks who live and work here get shafted because our all knowing city government wants to approve projects presented by the same “part-term resident(LOL)” development company heads?

    I wonder why our city is being sued now by Parks Hospitality Group of Raleigh and City Council felt they need to have a “closed session” meeting on Tuesday?!?!?!?

    Why would anyone want or be willing to pay around +$300 before fees & taxes, per room, per night?

    Are the hotel rooms nice? I’m sure they are…but who truly wants to rent a tiny 200 – 500 sq foot hotel room when you can rent a home, apartment, or condo and double your space within a relatively close location?

    Why don’t hotels increase value…because they don’t have a need to do so…we live in a beautiful area and the city itself is a historical treasure that folks from all over the world come to enjoy! What to all these new high-rise hotels do for you personally?

    For most of us they are an eyesore and meant to bring in more visitors to spend money which I’m all for…but why do they get each and every slice of the pie? Because our elected officials say they do? I think that is a load of bureaucratic BS and restricts local folks without necessary “MEANS” to sway approval from a small group of humble city servants…give me a damn break!

    Have you ever traveled with family or friends and just wanted to hang out in the same room for a couple hours after dinner and split a bottle of wine or some local brews?

    A hotel room in Asheville just will not meet this demand and STR’s do. You have got to think about variables like, safe transportation for tourist to go and spend money…just because they are not staying in a hotel does not mean the are not spending a good amount of money around town supporting local folks who work hard to make a living…rather than watch a regional/national/international hotel chain pay employees penny’s on the dollar to what they are pulling away on each room each night it is booked. It all boils down to corporate GREED and passing laws to limit property rights is just not the solution!

    Some travelers are also into supporting the local community rather than seeing a corporate chain take that money elsewhere for reinvestment outside of our community. Wouldn’t you rather the money just stay here and help our local economy?

    We met friends for cocktails before dinner reservations at a great little 2 bedroom rental off chicken ally. The place was very nice and was amazing for two couples to split for a weekend in downtown Asheville! I love STR’s here and everywhere I travel because it allows for VALUE which most of us are willing to pay for if it exists.

    If you live in downtown Asheville and the “noise” bothers you…move to the country or better yet away from our little city full of art, music & culture

    Please enlighten all Ashevegas readers as to why you personally feel “STR’s are a scourge on this city and they all need to go.”?!?!?! I’m genuinely interested in your thought process….

    1. hauntedheadnc December 21, 2017

      Okay, I can sum up my thought process succinctly:

      Residences should be for the residents of this city. Every unit taken out of the city’s residential inventory is a unit actively contributing to the city’s housing crisis because they are helping to push rents ever upward.

      I personally do not care what the tourists want nor how much they want to pay for it. I care about being able to afford to live in the city where I work, as I am not a wealthy tourist who only comes here to play. I also do not care what wealthy property owners want, and that goes double for wealthy absentee property owners. I care about the people who have to work here, making pathetic Asheville wages and paying exorbitant Asheville prices.

      Furthermore, you say “we live in a beautiful area and the city itself is a historical treasure that folks from all over the world come to enjoy.” You do not consider that unfettered STR’s are hollowing out that historical treasure and turning it into an empty set piece. Real cities are lived in. Fake tourist traps are all carefully calculated “charm” for the tourists.

      You tell me how, when people and businesses are getting thrown out of downtown to make way for STR’s, and when entire buildings of new STR’s are going up, disguised as residential buildings, any of that is in any way real and lived in. It’s fake, a sham, and no more real or authentic than a backdrop for a play.

  4. hauntedheadnc December 20, 2017

    So… Will the downtown projects now be actual residential projects, or will they be glorified hotel suites?

    Shame they’re grandfathering in the STR’s already out there. STR’s are the reason Chicken Alley and Carolina Lane are as boring as they are now. STR’s are a scourge on this city and they all need to go.

    1. William December 20, 2017

      Please explain your assumption about Chicken Alley and Carolina Lane. And while you’re at it, please educate yourself on how many STRs actually exist in the CBD. The real shame is constantly commenting on a subject you obviously know nothing abuout.

      1. Hauntedheadnc December 21, 2017

        The “assumption” as you call it, is based upon the fact that Carolina Lane and Chicken Alley used to be the best place downtown to go to see some serious urban art, grit, and true character, all of which is gone now, plus the fact that there used to be art studios, recording studios, and residences there that are also all gone now, the lot of it having been shoved out to make way for tourist housing.

        Whch is what STR’s actually are, and what I wish people would start calling them so the stigma would have the chance to stick.

        This article notes there are more than 60 STR’s downtown, and should all the projects that were presented as condos but are actually planned as STR’s were to go through, that would bring the total up to close to 80. Why? Would you like to say the total is much lower?


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