VRBOs are either lawful or not
I am dismayed that Ashland's Planning Department continues to frame the unlawful short-term rental issue as "VRBO versus B&B." This perpetuates two misconceptions:
1. Visitors have too few lodging options, most of which are B&Bs.
2. There are not enough vacation home rentals.
Please consider these facts: Counting from the city's business license database, Ashland has only 19 B&Bs. Whereas, there are more than 60 vacation rental units — all with privacy from the owners. All of these lodging establishments, B&Bs and vacation rentals alike, have one thing in common: They operate lawfully, i.e., licensed, with permits, and within the appropriate city zones.
In his July 24 letter, Mr. Manzone was correct to suggest visitors will decide on the kind of lodging they want. Many want vacation cottages, of which there are plenty. However, he is incorrect that B&B owners don't want vacation rentals to exist. Competition is fine. What owners of lawful B&Bs and vacation rentals don't want is an uneven playing field because of the plethora of unlawful short-term rentals.
Furthermore, Mr. Manzone attempts to legitimize his argument by citing that a B&B owner referred guests to him. I am that B&B owner, and years ago I did refer friends to Manzone's cottage. This happened well before the unlawful short-term rentals were making their negative impact on Ashland's housing supply and before I was aware that the Manzone's cottage was, and still is, operating unlawfully.
Now I only refer guests to the many lawful vacation rentals in Ashland.
Reach out to the Latino community
A Latina woman, "Maria," stood by her overflowing baskets of strawberries and blackberries. Her stall was almost to the end of the Growers Market in Ashland on Tuesday, July 22. She was solemn, unsmiling, seeming rather ill-at-ease with the English language.
I bought a pint container of large and small sweet strawberries, and we thanked each other. After me, a young family looked at her stall, contemplated buying, and I vaguely heard "I want to support ..." some other fruit vendor.
I felt sad that this family did not buy from "Maria." She had lots of baskets yet to sell, and the clock was ticking toward the 1:30 closing time. I feel a desire to help the Mexican community, who work in the hot fields doing labor that we whites don't want to do.
I do not want to get into the Immigration issue; it is far too complex for me. I do know that a Mexican feels heat, pain and joy as we do.
Next Tuesday, if she's still there, I hope you'll buy some delicious strawberries from "Maria." She's on the left, way down the walkway, toward the train tracks. Her berries were cheaper too; $2.75 a pint as compared with $3 a pint at the other stalls.
Ski area makes the right moves
I have been a vocal critic of the Mount Ashland expansion. I commend Mount A for making reasonable improvements within the existing boundaries.
I am a former ski instructor on the mountain and can appreciate how much recontouring the Sonnet beginner slope will facilitate teaching and learning. Creating 101 new parking spaces will help the mountain financially.There was a shuttle service and that failed due to lack of ridership. I hope that Jackson County will move quickly to deny the appeal made by Eric Navickas to delay these improvements.
How dissent gets silenced
I write this letter feeling a need to lodge a logical defense of democratic culture and what's left of lofty American civilization while such dissent is still allowed and sometimes understood.
Partly, I feel that liberty and its breath of dissent are endangered because sacrificial dissent must usually depend on unusually bright, active, or simply hard to pacify individuals, unusual individuals. So when very powerful corruption wants to break or censor an individual, how may this atrocity be achieved?
The simplest way is to frame someone like Julian Assange for something unrelated, usually a crime they haven't committed but a crime related to a perceived weakness. So then our "justice" officers go to the American dissenter, who sweet-breathed judges will call "innocent until proven guilty." They will then use tiny, medically damaging handcuffs to truss the person up like a pig to be tossed in a back seat designed not to transport but to inflict punishment on the untried. Next, they'll be run through an alleged "legal" system highly biased first toward prosecutors and secondly toward money and political muscle.
Meanwhile, the lower-chakra national press will hassle the dissident, even if defending them, for not being politically correct, or quiet or proper enough — and even most of the conditioned public will eventually cheer on the person's persecution because, if nothing else, such rebellion makes them feel and think about their own disempowerment. I have no personal or political admiration, or disdain, for George Zimmerman. But in my opinion, the "trial" was rigged against him and was only won by extreme evidence and brilliant, self-sacrificial attorneys. Yet even such a verdict is not safe.
Thus may any individual be tried: thus are dissenting voices silenced.
Sean Lawlor Nelson