Earlier this year, I offered praise and support for the city of Boise’s decision to expand accessory dwelling unit options, as part of its “Grow Our Housing” plan. This decision enhanced private property rights while also creating additional housing options, which are desperately needed in our growing community.
After a wise and important step in the right direction toward addressing community needs, I am deeply disappointed at the city’s consideration to now significantly restrict short-term rental housing as it impedes a fundamental right of property ownership: to rent.
The following are some of the reasons I am personally opposed to this proposal.
Among their primary reasons for proposing these restrictions, the city expressed a desire to preserve the character of neighborhoods and address alleged concerns of noise, parking and traffic associated with short-term rentals. There isn’t anything inherent in rental housing, be it short- or long-term, to support these claims, so to say this is specific to short-term rentals is disingenuous. If there are bad actors, then let’s treat them as any other violator of public nuisance ordinances. Instead of creating new regulations or restrictions, let’s use the existing code enforcement tools should an issue arise, instead of singling out short-term rentals as the scapegoat.
The city’s proposal also claims that by restricting short-term rentals they will address the housing shortage by freeing up more long-term options. Let’s be honest, the number of long-term housing options this could create immediately is marginal at best. While we absolutely need more housing today, creating regulations that have long-term and potentially unintended consequences at the expense of private property rights is short-sighted.
The proposal wrongly assumes these restrictions will improve housing affordability. However, short-term rentals didn’t create a national or citywide shortage of affordable living options, nor are they responsible for the overall increased cost of living in our communities. In fact, individual homeowners often use short-term rentals to earn additional income, possibly to offset the increasing costs of living in Boise, or, in order to afford to buy a home to live in while offsetting their mortgage payment. Those who claim that short-term rentals are only owned by out-of-town investors or corporations profiting off local real estate as a reason to support these restrictions fail to realize the direct economic harm these restrictions would have on local property owners.
The reasons a property owner may choose to utilize short-term rentals are unique and varied, and all fill an important housing need in our community. Restricting and overregulating short-term rentals won’t address the problems cited in this proposal, but instead, threaten fundamental and longstanding private property rights. As president of the Boise Regional Realtors, I can say with confidence that our Board of Directors and membership stands ready and willing to engage with the city and discuss common sense housing solutions, that, until this proposal, have been part of the city’s vision.
Please join me in letting the city of Boise know that we disapprove of this policy and together make our voices heard.