Don't Let The Snake Oil Salesman Sway You

David Iverson •

To the editor:

What is this Short Term Rental (STR) discussion really all about?

Is it about affordable, attainable housing? I would argue that land values are based on market pressures. The finite nature of land, coupled with the very desirable nature of our island, are the dominant drivers here.

Is it about over burdening our infrastructure? Are we that naïve that we believe approximately 2,000 STRs are a greater drain on our infrastructure than the compounds being built by the ultra-wealthy? Three-phase power running year-round, maximized ground cover, pools, staff, and large bedroom counts are all drains on our infrastructure, to a much larger extent.

Is it about the fabric of our community? In the multiple decades I have lived on this island, there has never been a more divisive discussion on an issue. Multiple talking points and inflammatory phrases have been used to demonize STRs. “Mini hotels,” “commercial use,” “investor-owned,” and the list goes on. What IS lacking are the data and facts to back up these statements. However, that does not stop some organizations, or the people that support them, from using unproven statements to further their specific agendas under the pretense of protecting our community. Do we want regulation because a few loud people don’t like the way STRs make them feel? I vote for reality-based regulation.

Do STRs have a negative effect on year-round housing stock? Can anyone honestly look at the houses currently involved in litigation, and say that any of them would be part of the year-round housing inventory? If opponents of STRs actually believe they have a negative effect on affordable or year-round housing, wouldn’t they target properties that have an impact on these issues? They haven’t and they won’t, because the evidence does not exist.

The truth I believe is truly disturbing. We, as islanders, are in an existential battle. We are nothing more than peasant pawns at risk of being collateral damage, as feudal lords battle for control of how we use our properties. They continue to win some locals hearts and minds by making claims of protecting locals’ rights. While their intent is to actually limit them or take them away all together.

This argument is about billionaires suing millionaires over property rights, at our expense. A lot of us have lived through downturns in the economy, where friends and neighbors have lost their houses; it is a painful time. This happened organically, nationwide, where we had little or no control over the outcome. Our situation is different: every working man and woman on this island is inextricably connected by some degree to STR income. It would be financial suicide to think we could weather even a 20% reduction in that income.

We, as a community, control our destiny on this issue. Don’t let the false narratives and the snake oil salesman sway you. Smart regulation based on solid data, facts, and reality-based reasoning should rule the day. Please don’t let someone, who doesn’t even get a local exemption on their taxes, tell you what to do with your property. Stand up for your property rights, and protect our island.

David Iverson

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