Fairfield Ledger

Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Jan 18, 2018

Embrace Airbnb, don’t restrict it

Sep 22, 2016

To the editor:
The question of how to “regulate” Airbnb is now on the table, with a task force assigned to make suggestions.
My wife and I have many times enjoyed staying at many Airbnb homes when out of state, and live next door to a residence that regularly hosts guests via Airbnb.
We have greatly enjoyed getting to know various hosts on these stays and especially enjoyed the amenities that come from sharing others homes.  
The guests staying next door were all delightful to get to know and only a blessing. Airbnb is wildly successfully throughout the world, and in most places there are no restrictions.
I strongly encourage our community leaders to embrace this new technology and not impose burdensome regulations or taxes.
This past Labor Day weekend our community hosted FAIRfest. All of the local motels were full, requiring many attendees to stay outside of Fairfield. The beauty of Airbnb is that it allows communities like ours to host hundreds of guests that would not otherwise be able to come to our town.
Fairfield desires to become a tourist destination, and certainly has the potential for attracting people to come here. However, without expanding our housing capacity, we are limited to current hotel and motel space. If we were wise enough to embrace Airbnb, and not to impose restrictions, we could, virtually overnight, be capable of holding much larger events than we are presently able.
Even without Airbnb anyone can invite guests into their home, and do so regularly. This will not change, no matter what laws are passed. The intelligence of the sharing economy technology is that it allows homeowners to earn income from unused bedrooms, or their home, when not being occupied. Do we really want to deny this opportunity to homeowners?
Arguments against include: “what if someone rents their home to someone and they have a big party, etc.?” There are already laws in place if this would occur and the police could be called to address any disturbances. The mere possibility that something like this would happen should not be used as an reason to stop this innovative, creative technology that could greatly benefit our community.
If we are to be known as a progressive community we should not be enacting laws that get in the way of the natural evolution of the sharing economy.
Imposing a “hotel tax” will only creative a disincentive to its use. The homeowners here already pay ridiculously high property taxes, and another level of taxation should not be imposed.
In truth, Airbnb brings sophisticated people into town and allows for unused bedrooms to be used to the financial benefit of homeowners and the entire community. The best form of cultural exchange occurs and personal relationships are established that would not otherwise occur.
While here, guests dine at area restaurants, shop at area stores, and otherwise more deeply get to know us. There simply is no good reason to restrict Airbnb within any particular zoning district. The very best suggestion for “regulating” Airbnb is to highly encourage its use everywhere, and by everyone, within the community. Sometimes doing less accomplishes more.

– Ed Noyes, Fairfield

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