Do you want to close the Airbnb next door?
The country’s leading short-term rental store, Airbnbincludes detailed interactive maps on its website, so you can pinpoint precisely where rental properties are, sometimes down to the exact block.
Indeed, while searching the local Airbnb map, I discovered that my neighbor had a unit in his house listed for rental. Judging by the many comments on his listing, he is a good host and his popular accommodation seems to be in heavy use.
Now I know why there are a few more unknown cars in my dead end than I expected. But that’s the only clue I’ve had that it’s happening, not the kind of commercial intrusion into a residential area that Airbnb reviews claim.
However, I understand that each rental and its situation is different. And I believe area residents who claim their quiet neighborhoods have been overwhelmed by short-term rentals, especially when the owner isn’t on the property or when paying visitors don’t treat a place the way they would. if they lived there.
There’s a wide range of opinions on short-term rentals, and I guess that’s why city officials in southeastern Connecticut have generally been slow to address what has become a hot topic, with tempers on both sides.
There is a lot of money on the table. Rents for a single room in most parts of the region start at over $100 a night, and house rentals skyrocket to hundreds of dollars a night, for ordinary accommodation.
It would seem that Memorial Day weekend is a good time to start tackling the issue more seriously. This is a debate raging across the country, in communities large and small.
The most aggressive booth I’ve seen here is in the village of Noank, where the zoning commission categorically ruled last year that there was no provision in the zoning bylaws for commercial rentals in residential areas and are therefore not permitted.
Indeed, when you hover your cursor over Noank on the Airbnb online map, no rental is displayed. Noankers are good rule-followers.
The south end of New London lights up like a Christmas tree on the map, with plenty of short-term rentals.
Some of the harshest reviews of Airbnb rentals in the area have to do with loud parties at Ledyard. We can all assume it has something to do with the city’s proximity to the biggest casino in the world. The city is moving toward stricter enforcement, adding zoning rules that allow short-term rentals when the owner lives on the property.
Groton, after deliberating on the matter, kicked out, deciding only to demand the recording.
The problem looms over Stonington like a dark storm cloud, with those mad at an increasing number of Airbnb listings at Mystic getting much louder.
Some creative solutions are being considered across the country as communities search for compromises.
Some, like Ledyard, require the host to live on the premises. Others stop rentals for periods of less than a week.
A small town in Michigan this month adopted what seemed like a reasonable solution: regulate and tax them, requiring a special use permit that allows the community to consider each property and its unique features separately. This process gives neighbors a voice when a permit application is filed.
Some of the arguments for Airbnbs in communities like Mystic, where the economy depends on tourism, are that they are easy economic development, attracting more visitors and their spending, even when hotels are full.
That, on the other hand, is the commercialization of residential neighborhoods that so many critics of short-term rentals focus on.
In some coastal communities, short-term rentals, particularly one-week rentals from Saturday to Saturday, are a long-standing custom and tradition that have helped generations of seasonal cottagers keep up with the bills, by renting the property when they are not using it. .
The explosion of short-term overnight rentals, closer to a hotel than a bed and breakfast, is new.
Their growth is also a factor in the region’s discussions of its affordable housing issues. Rooms, apartments and houses rented to visitors are not available to residents.
As we find ourselves on the cusp of a busy summer short-term rental season, it is certainly a good time to deepen the debate.
Sounds like strong public hearings are in order.
This is the opinion of David Collins.