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Wednesday’s Letter to the editor

OPINION March 29, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.

In support of SB 197

Dear editor:

Kudos to the Arkansas Senate for approving SB 197! A majority of senators showed courage in standing up to the highly organized hotel lobby and residential property owners wishing to limit the constitutional rights of short-term rentals (STR) owners.

Recent scathing editorials have conjured up images of irresponsible property owners renting to families and individuals that behave much in the manner as those recently shown rioting on spring break in Miami. In truth, vacation homeowners protect their property closely and follow both city ordinances and Airbnb and VRBO protocols. In truth, families and individuals renting vacation homes are no different from any of us wishing to spend time with family and friends in a safer and less restrictive environment than the confines of a hotel room. Also, note that no factual data has been presented in these editorials that support their premise that STRs increase violence, theft, destruction of property, and general infringement on the rights of other property owners above that generally reported in residential neighborhoods.

Facts: STR owners are currently held to a higher standard than owners of long-term rentals, and other property owners, in that their property must be inspected and pass rigorous code enforcement in order to receive a permit to do business. STRs are currently limited as to how many occupants may sleep in the house, how many occupants may otherwise occupy the house, and the number of cars that may be parked at the house. STRs owners are required to post information listing city ordinances including those regarding noise, parking, and trash pickup for the renter's adherence. STR owners are held responsible and subject to potential fines for violations. STR owners pay a hefty fee for a business license that exceeds the cost other businesses pay. STR owners pay a business license of $50 for every occupant the city inspector deems is allowable at the residence. (Personally, my business license fee increased from $35 annually three years ago to the current $600 annually for the past two years). The pretext for this increase in licensure fees is to pay the salaries of additional city employees hired to monitor STRs including code compliance inspectors and an increased police presence. However, no factual evidence has been provided, nor is currently available, to support the need for an increased police presence to oversee STRs.

It is not a reasonable assumption that STR owners value their property less than private residential owners and will allow destruction to their STR residence and to the neighborhood. It is my observation that STR owners are actually more protective and have taken more pride in maintaining their property than most private residential owners. I encourage city officials to equally apply current city ordinances for the protection of neighborhoods. STRs should not be burdened with restrictions above those imposed on long-term rentals and private residences. Please contact your state senators and representatives to encourage their continued commitment to preserving the constitutional rights of property ownership through passage of SB 197.

Dr. Linda Heard

Hot Springs

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