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Guest Opinion: Ashland is asking for trouble with new room rental rules

I live and run a licensed vacation rental at 635 Siskiyou Blvd. Although I am vice president of the Ashland Lodging Association, the comments I have are my own and not meant to represent those of the ALA.

I have no problem with the creation of Accessory Traveler's Accommodations as proposed. In fact, I feel it would create a less expensive alternative and bring in visitors to Ashland who would not normally be able to afford it. Such accommodations are common in Europe and are quite inexpensive in comparison to a private room or house where the proprietor is not living down the hall.

The proposal here mandates that only one party at a time with only one car can be provided with not more than two rooms by the hosting party. Use of the kitchen is prohibited and the proprietor must be present during the visit.

Unfortunately, here is what will happen: Hundreds of applicants will apply for and be licensed to operate such accommodations in every neighborhood in Ashland. After that it will be impossible to determine who is complying with the ordinance and who is not.

As in the past, those who don't find the rules agreeable will simply do what they want, except now, with their license, they will be able to advertise and operate in full view and without fear of being discovered. By passing this with no effective plan for enforcement, the City Council will be creating a chaotic situation which will lead to the end of any kind of municipal control of the accommodation industry here in Ashland.

It is my suggestion that those who are in favor of this get rid of the rules pertaining to traveler's accommodation all together. Simply award a business license to anyone who is willing to pay for it and require a city room tax be charged. The negative impact of doing that, however, is another issue.

Barring midnight raids and neighborhood surveillance cameras, how can the city make an attempt at insuring compliance by the licensees of these Accessory Travelers Accommodations? The only practical solution I can think of is, at the cities expense, to have personnel pose as tourists, book accommodations and physically stay there and report back any violations.

Also, if licensed, all advertisements in the description of the property must include an outline of what an Accessory Traveler's Accommodation is as defined by the city and encourage visitors to report violations. Since there will be hundreds of licensees to monitor it should be a one-strike-and-you're-out policy.

The city, at it's sole discretion, should be able to revoke a license and impose substantial fines. Perhaps with this, operators of these businesses will be intimidated enough that they will be more likely to regulate themselves and adhere to the conditions of their license.

Stephen A. Larson lives in Ashland.