I am 78 years old, a handicapped woman, retirement resources gone, living on a broken thread.
The personal crux:
I turned to airbnb hosting not to make money for comforts or extras but to make ends meet — for the basics. I am at peril of losing my home, either to bankruptcy or having to sell with no profit.
When I turned to airbnb to try to make ends meet, it was an experiment to use an extra bedroom. I live alone, so airbnb was way out of my comfort zone. In the airbnb structure I get to know people before they book and I get to ask questions and make choices before booking. Airbnb keeps track of my booking so I can't overbook. And airbnb also manages the money from the guest's bank to mine, managing the accounting (another of my disabilities taken care of for me). Airbnb does the entrepreneurial tasks for me that I can't do because of my disability.
Guests and neighborhood:
My experience is that the kind of people who choose airbnb — and then choose Ruth's Quiet Retreat — are courteous, thoughtful and a pleasure to have in my quiet home. Knock wood, I have had no guests who I have felt uncomfortable with or imperiled by. Because I live alone, these qualities are important to me, as well as to the community.
Consequently I have had no complaints by neighbors; some have no idea that the guests are other than my friends. There are so few of them. And certainly there has been no necessity for police calls.
For the two seasons I have been doing airbnb, only about a quarter of my guests come for the Shakespeare Festival. The rest come to see family and friends, do business, sightsee in the area, or as a comfortable, interesting stopover between Seattle/Portland and San Francisco. They all look for good dining and shopping during their stay and appreciate staying in a private, easy home atmosphere with good conversation.
Hosting guests in my one bedroom is an absolute godsend to me financially, easy on the neighborhood, and the smallest fraction of competition to more commercial established venues. My gross revenue last year was less than $4,000, which is nothing in the general economy of tourism. However it is highly significant in my personal economy: the difference between going under and staying more or less afloat.
I would ask the City Council to consider that one-bedroom accommodations like mine be taxed at a much lower rate or not taxed at all and regarded as simply a small in-home business requiring a permit and license as a business, but not requiring a code change.
While this situation is crucially difficult for me, I am actually proud of this council and town for considering the economic hardships of some of its citizens in this particular code and for taking the time to listen and consider it more deeply: (A) for recognizing economic hardship in the application of this code and (B) for considering supporting the entrepreneurial spirit in those of us who have few resources.
I want also to commend the council and the Planning Commission for their guidance in beginning code compliance in this matter. Kevin Flynn, while clear in his role, was very informative, helpful and also kind when he took the time to interview me personally. These are truly examples of a "government for the people." Thank you.
Ruth Codier Resch lives in Ashland.