Thursday, February 22, 2024

MY TURN: Short-term rental proposed regulations

by ANNE PATTERSON/Guest Opinion
| October 27, 2022 1:00 AM

The city council has failed to provide evidence that:

1) the integrity of neighborhoods in Cd’A has been negatively affected by STRs.

2) that STRs are responsible for the lack of affordable housing.

3) that “blue collar workers” are being hurt by STRs.

Instead, visitors are going to be most affected by these proposed changes. Our main industry here is tourism. Why would you want to limit this industry in our town?

Not all STR owners are out of state. Many are residents of modest means, whose retirement consists solely of their real estate investments.

STRs are needed to supply furnished housing for traveling professionals; wildfire crews, nurses and teachers among others.

The most overlooked fact regarding affordable housing; high density apartments do NOT bring the cost of housing down. These landlords permanently “fix” rents and are not affected by vacancy rates. The goal is to elevate rents and eliminate competition. Why would I rent my fourplex out for $900 per month, when the going rate is $1,500? Smart landlords follow suit.

Where are the developments filled with very small single-family homes? The downtown is historically populated with small houses built many years ago. I’ve been told that the permitting fees now are the same no matter the size of the house being built. Could this be a reason why little houses are not popular with builders? A family of four can rent an apartment, or they can buy a small house. Owning a small home is by all measures preferable to renting an apartment. What is being done to encourage builders to build small, more affordable houses?

Where are the new neighborhoods filled with duplexes? Two families could share the purchase, and each have their own home with a yard. Are we creating an environment where the only choice available to young families and newcomers is an apartment? Is it poor planning, done by people who lack common sense? Or have you been influenced by big money and big developers?

We look to our elected officials to not just “study” the problem, but to be CREATIVE in solving it. Communities like Oak Crest have been an affordable, safe, alternative for families and seniors to “own” a home. Wouldn’t MORE of these type of communities help our growing population? What about “Golden Spike” in Rathdrum? Another example of “own your home, not the land.”

This crisis has been coming for years. To my knowledge, Dan Gookin is the only official to publicly state the obvious: “The focus of our city council has largely been to provide waterfront dwellings for a bunch of rich people.“ I respectfully ask the city council to refrain from enacting policies that limit or restrict short-term rentals. Instead, I urge you to focus on creative ways to ensure that young families, elderly and newcomers can own a home of their own. Let’s not be the community that has nothing to offer these groups except apartment dwelling.

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Anne Patterson is a Coeur d’Alene resident.