David Forbes of the Asheville Blade (and Ashvegas collaborator) live-tweeted this afternoon’s packed meeting to talk about issues surrounding short-term rentals in Asheville. The rise in popularity of sites like VRBO.com and airbnb, as well as the resurgent interest in Asheville as a tourist destination, has made the issue a hot topic in town.
Asheville city regulations generally allow a visitor to rent a room in someone’s house, but renting a separate home or apartment for less than 30 days is not allowed in most neighborhoods. Asheville City Council has been studying whether to adopt new rules, and last year hired an associate professor focusing on housing and community at UNC Chapel Hill to research the issues and report back. A draft report of new rules was handed to City Council in November. The rules aimed to resolve issues such as reducing potential conflict between long-term residents, competition with hotels and keeping rentals from driving up housing prices.
Lawmakers at the N.C. General Assembly may also weigh in. Last November, the Revenue Laws Study Committee of the N.C. General Assembly met to consider the legal, regulatory and policy challenges posed by short-term online rental marketplaces and rides-haring services.
To give you a flavor for Wednesday’s meeting, here’s most of what Forbes tweeted:
Packed house at short-term rentals forum. Lynn Minges, NC restaurant and lodging assoc is up first.
Minges: “many of our members market their business through Air BnB,” but want same standards for sanitation, taxes.
Minges: lack of regulation “poses a threat” to safety, welfare of community vs. standards required for hotel biz
Minges claims willing to collaborate w affordability advocates, neighborhoods, local govs.
Minges: AirBnB “not small time players,” bigger than most natl hotel chains. “Good ppl” but unregulated.
Minges: neighbors concerned about healhy/safety, affordable housing, “community integrity.”
Minges: law that would fix short-term rentals would include zoning, safety inspections, insurance, notification, taxes, licensing
Minges talking about bringing issue to general assembly, emphasizing as way to collect needed sales, occupancy taxes.
Minges: “Portland and San Francisco have been successful in getting these taxes paid.”
Jim Muth, Asheville BnB association: “good problem to have” due to business, econ growth, indicates success of area
Muth: room for short-term rentals, can’t get a room in Asheville Spring through Fall. Can collaborate.
Muth: “we’ve had this explosive growth because Asheville is cool.” Credits visitors bureau for ppl knowing about that
Muth: occupancy tax important because it funds pr for area, wants short term rentals registered, insured, paying taxes
Probably a good point for the regular reminder that me quoting people at event like this doesn’t indicate agreement w views
Barber Melton, Coalition of Asheville Neighborhoods: “neighborhoods are being inundated…we are very concerned” areas are fragile.
Melton: if short-term rental owner’s in Virgin Islands, and someone’s “having a whoopee party,” hard to deal w it.
Melton: short-term rentals also hurt affordable housing, because ppl will turn long-term rental units into more profitable strs
Chip Craig, realtor: frustrated city has rule against vacation rentals but doesn’t enforce it. Operate our strs outside city.
Craig claiming “vacation rentals are affordable housing” disagreeing w Melton that they reduce supply or are that profitable.
Craig: once rented to fraternity, terrible experience, had to have police kick them out at 3 am, but mostly rent to families
Kama Ward, short-term rental owner: had rental since fall of 2013, outside city, lost $7,000 first year.
Ward: renting home short-term while hoping to later to return to it. Agree about registry, paying taxes, safety.
Ward: tricky to say how many. 41,000 total housing, talking about 300-800, less than 1%. “Not large enough to affect
Kit Cramer, Avl Chamber: “we’re always interested in regulation of business — or lack of regulation, more importantly”
Cramer: glad overall agreement, “some wrinkles that need to be ironed out” want to balance needs.
Question time. Mike Lewis: concerned strs quickly become managed by large cos, concerned strs “pose threat” to prop values
Lewis asserting strs pose issues w parking, people wandering through neighborhoods, “a pox on residential neighborhoods.”
Lewis asserting “city has no good record on enforcing anything” scattered applause.
Michelle Smith wants to avoid polarization and debate and issue, “grateful to hear collaboration many times”
William Dickerson, short-term rental owner in Jackson County, Asheville, says recently cited and shut down.
Dickerson: vacation rentals create affordability for tourists, which is important. Had more probs w tenants, harder to kick out.
Scattered applause from part of audience when Dickerson complains about long-term tenants being harder to kick out.
Cramer also concerned about regulation. Craig: already enough regs, do hear some horror stories
Short-term rental owner recently cited by city, says practice keeping ppl in homes, Air BnB “part of new sharing community”
Beth Carson, who wrote a book on vacation rentals: want ppl to check to make sure it’s legally allowed, pay taxes.
Carson: live in Fiji, pay 30% taxes there, fire inspections every year, maids have to get health inspections. Don’t need to burden
Brandee Boggs: most agree state hasn’t done anything that works for Asheville, need to regulate at local level.
Boggs: the issues here come from the ppl Minges represents, the hotel and restaurant industries won’t pay a living wage.
Boggs adding that Five Pts neighbors don’t agree w CAN’s stance