Rentals don't harm our neighborhoods
Thanks to the Mail Tribune for its insightful July 26 editorial, which noted, "Objections to strangers staying in residential neighborhoods seem overblown," and "Allowing short-term rentals would add to the number of visitors in town benefiting local restaurants and shops as well as homeowners," and finally, "... we are not aware of any outcry from residents that their neighborhoods have been degraded." I was so glad to learn we were not the only ones to observe that the Ashland City Council is not aware the world has passed them by.
Looking at the question of short-term rentals worldwide, the July 21 issue of the New York Times, referring to a worldwide business renting 140,000 rooms in private homes per night, said: "It created a framework of trust that permitted tens of thousands of people (to be) comfortable renting rooms in their homes to strangers." Additionally the Times observed that those who occupied short-term rentals "save money, stay safe and enjoy a more authentic cultural experience," and tourists who stayed in private homes were able to "meet new people, save money and have a more intimate experience with a city."
Personally, my wife and I recently exchanged our Ashland home for a million-dollar home in Bend, in which the basement apartment was available for short-term rental. We have rented our home in August for a number of years and we have also exchanged our home with homeowners throughout the United States.
We have never seen a shred of evidence that it is necessary to protect property values by excluding guests who wish short-term rentals. Of course there have to be some sensible boundaries to allowing short-term rentals in single-family zones. But a blanket prohibition of something that has been going on worldwide for many years doesn't make sense.
Hopefully, the City Council and the mayor will realize the world is changing. Please pay attention!
Stewart and Anne McCollom
We have plenty of parking lots
We have parking lots. There are the lots at SOU, where the school lots sit empty; Science Works, Albertsons, SOU student housing, churches — they are all empty when downtown is desperate for parking. We have parking lots; we need a way to transport people to the downtown events from the abundance of empty parking spaces around town.
This is possible — trolleys, vans, some coordination — the empty lots that sit all summer could be used to get folks comfortably to the events downtown.
Really Ashland, let's get this together and use what we have!
No to tar sands, Keystone, fracking
We've known since the 19th century that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere causes it to heat up. Nowadays the primary source of carbon dioxide is burning fossil fuels for transportation and for generating electricity.
Hard-nosed organizations such as the World Bank and the International Panel on Climate Change tell us that if the world is to stay habitable, we have to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and leave most fossil fuel in the ground.
So which ones do we leave? Those that provide the least energy for the energy we use to extract them. Also, those whose extraction causes serious human and environmental health hazards. That means nixing tar sands oil, the Keystone XL pipeline and fracking for gas.
In addition, it will help to level the economic playing field for renewable carbon-free energy production. One way is to tax the fossil fuels at their source.