Tonight, Asheville will join other cities across North Carolina and the nation in voting on greater restrictions on short term rentals. I’ve written about this issue before, and many of the questions I have for Asheville are the same.
In particular, I have to wonder if this isn’t a little short-sighted on Asheville’s part. Among other things, Asheville is a booming tourist spot. People come for music and art and breweries. People come for the mountain setting, which is beautiful. And the economy benefits tremendously. All those tourists bring dollars. They create economic growth. They sustain local businesses.
But they need somewhere to stay when they come, so anything that makes it harder for people to offer short-term accommodation in creative ways risks killing the goose that lays the golden egg. Asheville should be very careful. If there’s enough demand for this sort of short-term rental that people are building for that purpose, or converting existing housing to offer Airbnb rooms, then that means something. Let the market drive this. It will be more successful than any attempt at central planning by the city council.