2018-08-10 / Letters

Keep ‘neighbor’ in neighborhood

To the editor:

Like many of you, I have been working since I was 15 years old, held two or three jobs at a time, and lived with roommates to save enough money to be able to buy my home five years ago. I am one of the lucky ones, because this Airbnb/VRBO phenomenon is rapidly gobbling up family homes for profit. Our family focused, aging-inplace community is being overwhelmed by investors buying up single family homes and turning them into hotels. This trend is disintegrating the fabric of our residential neighborhoods.

I chose to live in a neighborhood because I value forming personal relationships within my community. But houses that are converted to non-hosted short-term rentals are either full of tourists or empty. Where is the neighbor who looks out for their elderly neighbors? Where is the neighbor who checks on your home while you’re away, checks on your pets and keeps an eye out for your children? The day of knowing your neighbors and having your community look out for you is in jeopardy. You may think this can’t happen to your neighborhood, but in the blink of an eye it can.

The home next to mine recently sold. A few years ago, I would have assumed a family would move in. Now, sadly, my reality is that this home maybe turned into yet another non-hosted short-term rental. I dread the thought of having a revolving door of anonymous strangers every few days. If I wanted to live next to a transit hotel, I would have bought a home in a destination like Old Orchard Beach, where short-term rentals are the norm.

I stand behind our city council and the many concessions it has made while crafting the short-term rental ordinance. In residential zones, that includes allowing homeowners to rent out part of their home to supplement their income, as long as the owner is present. In commercial zones, both hosted and non-hosted shortterm rentals are permitted. The council has stood up to the short-term rental bullies and said it is not OK to run non-hosted short-term rental businesses in our residential zones.

The non-hosted short-term rental business owners will say anything to get you to sign their petition, including suggesting that you may be losing your property rights. The truth is, the only right you stand to lose is the one that protects residential property owners from having to live next door to a commercial tourist hotel. Please help keep the ‘neighbor’ in neighborhood. Do not sign the petition.

Melanie Wiker South Portland

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