Valley News Forum for Thursday, Nov. 16, 2023: Short-term rentals harm communities

Published: 11-17-2023 3:02 PM

Short-term rentals injure communities

Fifteen years ago my wife and I were happy to purchase a summer home in Quechee. At the time, the vast majority of homes were being used, exclusively, by owners and their families. It was also a time when one could count on neighbors for assistance; e.g., being taught how to properly light a fire in a fireplace, borrowing a screwdriver, etc. As a community, we celebrated July 4th by coming together for a large barbecue and welcoming new homeowners. We took pride in our community and worked for the common good.

Fast forward to 2023. Our community has now been transformed into a place where a significant fraction of the homes are being used as short-term rental properties (e.g., AirBnB, VRBO, rental agencies and rental by owners). While short-term rentals offer investors a financial gain, some of this gain is being paid for by non-renting homeowners in terms of a loss of neighbors who can be counted on for help, a loss of community spirit and a loss of a desire to work for the common good. At a more tangible level, since we are part of a homeowners association (HOA), we are also required to contribute, indirectly, to the financial gain of owners of rental properties by having to pay for higher HOA insurance premiums due to short-term rentals being allowed to exist.

In addition, we are obligated to contribute to the repair of damages done by careless renters to all of our shared facilities. From an annoyance standpoint, many of our short-term renters do not understand, or wish to obey, community and township rules; e.g., allowing unleashed dogs to roam freely. In my opinion, communities and short-term rental properties do not mix. I believe this should give virtually all homeowners pause for thought.

Steve Regen

Quechee

Give the Fed
additional mandates

The Federal Reserve Board has been an active and effective government agency, reducing inflation and highlighting unemployment. Yet two major economic issues that desperately need expert economic attention have not been addressed — economic inequality and the national debt. One way to address these two challenges might be to amend the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 by adding two additional mandates to the Federal Reserve Board, specifically “to define extreme economic inequality” and “to identify an appropriate level for the national debt.”

The justification would be:

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1. Economic growth in the U.S. was strongest in the 1960s and 1970s when inequality was lowest and has declined as economic inequality has increased. The rising national debt, now over $33 trillion, will adversely affect all U.S. government activity in future.

2. There is precedent for adding new mandates for the Fed. In 1977, the Federal Reserve Reform Act amended the original 1913 Act by adding mandates to achieve the goals of stable prices and maximum sustainable employment. These mandates, as defined by the Fed, are now considered the Fed’s “dual mandates” and the Fed has defined a specific inflation rate of 2% and an unemployment rate of 3% as appropriate national goals.

3.This task is too complex and politically fraught to be dealt with directly by Congress or other elected officials at this point. An indirect approach through the Fed, which is nonpolitical, not elected, and composed of experienced regional bankers and staffed by professional economists would be a more realistic and credible approach since the Fed is independent yet subject to Congressional oversight.

4. Extreme economic inequality and an excessive national debt are dual threats to democracy and good governance and should not be ignored or left to political posturing. Guidelines need to be established in these policy areas, as they have been for inflation and unemployment. Could the Fed do this job? Would Congress empower it to do so? What do you think?

Phyllis Tilson Piotrow

New London