fb pixel

Log In

Reset Password

Should Ashland homeowners be able to rent rooms short-term?

Remember Motel 6? A couple generations ago that meant $6 for the family in a nice motel. You can kiss those days goodbye, a long time ago. As room rates have skyrocketed, homeowners in tourist towns like Ashland have stepped into the gap, seeking to rent out rooms by the night, week or whatever worked for them, thus helping enable them to afford to live in very expensive Ashland. John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.

Understandably, bed-and-breakfasts and motels are not totally crazy about this trend. In addition, neighbors of the VRBO — Vacation Rental By Owner — are not to happy about more cars parked on streets and strangers coming and going at all hours.

It’s almost Darwinian. Residents have to survive and also have a habitat to which they are adapted. Tourists pour into this lovely town, a paradisical spot reminiscent of “the small-twon America that used to be.” Homeowners want to dip their cup into the stream of revenue that, heretofore, has mainly been available to Festival and Plaza folk.

It’s a major turning point in Ashlandia, one that also will define the powers of the city council to say who can and cannot make a living from our attractive Hobbit shire and who cannot. In the past week, the council said OK, VRBO in multi-family areas but no-go in the single-family ‘hood. Many forces are in conflict.

We asked Ashlanders: What should we do?

The council considers many murky issues, but this one brings the deepest levels of murk. You have to consider the existing ordinance — Not OK to rent out homes for less than 30 days in a single-family zone, but it’s OK within 200 feet of a main arterial street in business and multifamily zones. 

It brings up visions of measuring the 200 feet to an arterial but only in business and multifamily zoning? How would you like to be the enforcing officer writing a ticket on that one? 

In any case, most Ashlanders we talked to had heard very little about this squabble and cared less. We asked: “Should people living in residential areas of Ashland be allowed to rent out rooms or their whole house on Airbnb or other websites?”

Courtney Duklew — It seems like the same old system, having to find a way to coexist together, with some saying ‘oh no, you’re going to take away my business.’ There’s enough for everyone. We are always saying there’s not enough. 

John Seligman — Absolutely, it should be allowed. It’s fun. I have been on Airbnb five years and gained a lot of experience. I’ve met people I never woud have ordinarily met. You can travel like you’re in Europe. It’s not so expensive. I meet people in a less formal place than in hotels. Motels and hotels make enough money, especially in this town, with an inflated tourist economy. The not-so-wealthy can’t afford to stay here. 

Cil Stengel — It’s OK for people coming to Ashland to have a variety of options about what their experience will be. They can stay in a home for a week. It’s kind of nice to do that. It’s easy to go places. Let’s not say you’re not going to have enough business or your business is not going to survive. How about being open to the possibilities of there being enough for everyone?

Tedi Tate — They should let homeowners do it because it is wildly expensive to live in Ashland and it’s gone up a lot in the past few years. Hotels work hard to keep their business but it should not be an either/or. Hotels and B&Bs and VRBO all cater to different markets.