Sunday, November 27, 2022

MY TURN: More info on STRs

by BARB CRUMPACKER/Guest Opinion
| October 29, 2022 1:00 AM

Since attending the joint planning commission/city council meeting Oct. 24, I have been gathering information from other concerned citizens about the proliferation of short term rentals in Coeur d'Alene, and their impact on our neighborhoods' cohesiveness.

It has been noted that owners of these units are operating a business and should be controlled as such. The issues that are concerning include noise and parking incursions that keep our neighborhoods less livable and safe, as well as limiting the availability of affordable housing for service workers. Do you know there are 400 permitted units, and an estimated 700 unpermitted ones most condensed in the Garden and Sanders Beach areas? This is a shocking number and puts extra strain on law enforcement, who must control inconsiderate renters.

Out in public, I have heard several groups saying, "We come here to Idaho because there are no rules and we can do whatever we want." No wonder we have white supremacist groups and gang members coming!

One local person had the experience of a Yakima gang group next door, complete with weapons on display and all-night partying. Calls from police were ineffective in stopping the offensive behaviors. Folks must tolerate visitors using their property as a bathroom and other obscene things.

Is this what we want our city to become? Would you like this going on next door to you?

The argument that the owners monitor the renters, when the owners are out of state, is laughable. As is the supposition that these short timers contribute to the economy. The folks I know who rent Airbnb's do so to cook for themselves, and no one will be a neighbor (like a hotel) to complain about their noise.

Parking and lot size in the areas impacted by STR's are not designed for large groups with their boats and jet ski trailers, as well as multiple cars taking up spaces that locals need. South 11th Street is a good example: with cars parked on both sides of the street, lots of boats and trailers, it's nearly impossible to drive through, especially in the summer.

Many STRs are owned by folks living out of state, so there can be no oversight or monitoring of their properties when renters abuse the neighborhood.

We may not like our permanent neighbors, but we learn to live with them and respect our differences, and know how to avoid conflicts with them. When folks are moving in and out every few days, it provides a disconnect unlike having known relationships. We are small communities and should be protected from the upheavals that occur with large numbers of these short-term rentals. I have two in my block out of six houses.

At least one property owner has been getting the homeowners exemption for several years, even though he hasn't lived there, it is an STR. How fair is this to us permanent owners and taxpayers?

The city says it hasn't got the resources to protect us. There is a reason why other tourist-based towns like Leavenworth, Wash., and Seaside, Ore., have put a moratorium on adding STRs.

The proposals I have heard suggested include:

• Limiting the number of STRs and providing a buffer zone.

• Unpermitted units being put on a waitlist with a large fine for not being permitted, to discourage owners from this use.

• Charging an annual fee to pay for inspectors and increased law enforcement calls.

• Moratorium on applications and sales of property to be used this way.

It is commendable that our city leaders are interested in hearing our concerns. Let's see if they are actually HEARD, considered and acted upon. Neither realtors nor longtime property owners will be 100% happy with any updated city codes. The expectation is that the outcome will be a "Do unto others" result.

• • •

Barb Crumpacker is a Coeur d'Alene resident.

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