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Our View: Ashland backs residents over visitors in lodging decision

After two years of work, the city of Ashland is poised to limit vacation rentals. The proposed "accessory traveler's accommodation" ordinance would limit competition for bed-and-breakfast inns and limit tourism impacts on neighborhoods. It also would limit options for tourists, something the City Council must consider.

In 2012 , the council considered officially allowing what already existed: whole-house rentals, so-called vacation rental by owner, or VRBO, popularized by Airbnb and other online services matching travelers with homeowners. The city's bed-and-breakfast industry, subject to lodging taxes and kitchen inspections, objected strenuously, and the council backed off.

The new ordinance that will come before the council Tuesday night for a public hearing was approved by the Planning Commission last month. It would allow homeowners to rent out rooms, but not entire houses: The owner would have to be physically present in the home, could not provide meals and must provide at least two off-street parking spots. Renters would be limited to one car.

These restrictions should allay most of the fears of B&B operators about competition and of residents concerned about the impact on their neighborhoods. On-street parking would not increase.

But the new rules would restrict lodging options in Ashland. For better or worse, VRBO lodging is extremely popular across the country, particularly in tourism destinations. That option will no longer exist here.

There are, however, definite pluses for B&B owners and residents. The city has weighed their interests against those of out-of-town visitors and so far come down on the side of local residents.