Pratik Bhakta for Asheville City Council


STR's (Short-Term Rentals) and ADU's have been a big topic of discussion recently and as such I want to take a moment and chime in on what my thoughts are.  There are several different opinions and viewpoints and I want to respect all of them by highlighting a few of them.

1) Property Owner's rights.  It is so easy for a person to want to tell another property owner that he/she should not do something for the mere fact that they don't agree with it.  Fact is, under law, if a property owner wants to rent out their home(s) as STR, he/she must follow applicable law. 

2) STR's destroy neighborhoods.  This is an opinion many have.  STR's invite strangers who occupy a house in well established neighborhoods.  These customers do not care about the area, the neighbors or the neighborhood.  Like many renters they feel entitled to use the home as they please, including but not limited to potential illicit activities.

3) STR's increase profit for homeowners, and decreases the availability of LTR's.  When we talk about affordable housing, it makes sense that this is happening more and more.  So one can't be FOR affordable housing and then subsequently rent their homes or their additional home out for STR's.

4) HomeStay's are legal.  This is a great idea for additional revenue for struggling homeowner's, as well as those that want to make a little of of extra money.

5) ADU's should be allowed. 

6) Hotels are against STR's.  This is an idea that has been propogated by many but it lacks any substance.  I will explain.

There are still many more opinions and viewpoints and I welcome those, but here is my opinion and what I agree and disagree with.  First, I am an advocate of property owner's rights.  It's sad that many people can't afford paying their taxes because they have skyrocketed in recent years.  Sometimes people are forced to rent their homes out in whole or in part to help make up the difference.  They shouldn't be denied their right to rent their houses out under applicable law.  However, if the law or zoning states that they cannot, then they may be relegated to homestay rental, which I fully respect.

I do agree that STR's tend to drive up the cost for affordability as more and more homeowner's/investors evict LTR's in favor of the more lucrative STR's.  That also happens because property taxes are escalating at an unsustainable rate, due to overspending by the city.  So its a "Catch-22".  We can slow this down, by enforcing existing laws and having neighbors be more vigilant and report illegal STR's in residential neighborhood.

Homestays in my opinion is a great idea, and I am also in favor of ADU's.  This is merely a fact that the owners are on premise to keep an eye on their investment, property, and the clientele.  This is more of a safety factor for the neighbors than anything else.  When there are people around, potential illicit activities are significantly deterred.

I am in the lodging industry, and as such I'm no stranger to attacks of "hotels are against STR's".  That is a misconception again.  Let me say that a majority of STR's compete with the economy hotels in and around Asheville, and not the big fancy hotels that you see in and around downtown.  These big hotels are not worried about STR's because their level of service/amenities do not compare, couple that with the pricepoints, and one can easily see that.  The small motels/economy hotels/mom & pop inns, whose pricepoints are more affordable to tourists on tight budgets however, are affected.  But again, the economy hotels objection to STR's is not a valid one here either.  There will always be competition in the market which tends to bring prices down for the consumer, so economy motels/inns know that they are competing for their customer.  Along those lines, what the lodging industry does want, is fairness and safety for the consumer.  Lodging facilities (including Bed & Breakfast Inns), have to go through annual fire inspections, health inspections, meet ADA regulations, something STR's do not have to go through yet they are by definition a lodging facility.  That essentially means, a commercial business, and as such, should be subjected to the same requirements as lodging facilities (again not referring to HomeStay's, but rather whole house rentals.)

While STR's tend to be a debatable topic, it always boils down to money.  We need to find the right balance to keep our residential neighborhoods from becoming commercialized.  Commercial encroachment doens't have to be in the form of big buildings, it can be right in front of us as a whole house.

Posted on 22 Sep 2017, 10:40 - Category: STR's & ADU's

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