In-depth Look at Town's Short-Term Rental Study - TribPapers

In-depth Look at Town’s Short-Term Rental Study

A deeper look at what the Weaverville Town Council learned about short-term rentals in their listening sessions. Image by Peggy.

Weaverville – At last month’s Weaverville Town Council meeting, Kayla DiCristina, a Land Of the Sky Regional Council planner, gave her findings from the town’s listening session on short-term rentals (STRs) during December and January. During the three listening in-person and Zoom sessions, less than 150 people participated.

DiCristina said what sparked the session was the council’s desire to know the impact of short-term rentals in Weaverville. She said the goal was to identify any community concerns or issues with STRs.

During the first session, general residents voiced concerns about “finding available and affordable housing” as it “was challenging, that they were concerned about new short-term rentals impacting the feeling of ‘neighborliness’ in their communities, and that, for some neighborhoods, there were positive experiences with short-term rental owners.”

The next session focused on residents living in neighborhoods with short-term rentals. “Attendees were asked what community elements they valued, said DiCristina. “Responses included a sense of community and walkability. Attendees then shared experiences that were both positive and negative with short-term rental owners in their neighborhoods. “New and long-term residents shared challenges with the availability of housing, while affordability was primarily an issue with newer residents.”

DiCristina then told the council about the third and final session, which focused on STR owners and operators, and attendees were asked to respond to the feedback of the second session, where “most responded that they felt similarly and expanded on what they do as short-term rental owners to positively influence their communities.” They “were also asked what supportive actions for short-term rental owners the town could take, and responses included sharing general business information and more communication.”

After going into some demographics of the town, DiCristina said the population was getting older, and there were fewer dependent children in the town. The median cost of buying a house also went up by about 64% since 2017, which was in line with the state.

The results of the sessions found: 

– Positive upkeep of short-term rentals appeared to be consistent and was not of large concern except
for a few specific locations.

– Short-term rental owners viewed positively by the community are those who make a concerted effort
to connect with those around their short-term rentals.

– The older age of guests staying in short-term rentals in Weaverville may have resulted in fewer

– Short-term rentals positively impact the local economy both in terms of economic growth and opportunities for entrepreneurship. The guests of short-term rentals in Weaverville frequently support local businesses.

– Many locally owned businesses, including short-term rentals, operate as LLCs.

– Ownership structure itself is less of a factor in determining and managing negative impacts from short-term rentals compared to management approaches by individual short-term rental owners and

– The Town cannot regulate land use based on ownership. Should the Town implement any regulations that define who can own property and in what form, such as an “individual”, a “trust”, a “corporation”, or an “LLC”, it will encounter future litigation.

She summed up her presentation with nine key takeaways from the sessions, which were similar to the results, repeating a lot of the founding of the findings of the sessions.

Some of the things not mentioned in the findings were:

– There are not enough new housing units being constructed in Weaverville. 

– It is unclear from this process the true extent to which short-term rentals contribute to population composition change, housing affordability, and housing availability in Weaverville.

– There are both veritable and pre-emptive concerns from the public surrounding short-term rentals.

– Community-led solutions may be effective in resolving issues with short-term rentals.

– Short-term rentals have a positive economic impact on Weaverville’s local businesses.

– Tourism currently is and has historically been a local economic driver for Weaverville. Tourism is prevalent throughout the regional economy.

– The Town cannot regulate land use based on ownership and will face future litigation if it chooses to do so.

Councilmember Doug Jackson asked DiCristina what length of stay is considered STRs; she said there were no hard and fast rules, but most in the sessions said a week to 30 days. Jackson said there were questions left unanswered that needed to be answered. Councilmember Michele Wood thought there needed to be more clarity between people’s understanding of ‘whole house stays’ and ‘home stays.’ Councilmember Catherine Cordell asked for examples of community-led solutions.

DiCristina said neighborhood associations, meeting your neighbors, seeing a moving truck, and going up to talk to them. “Creating an environment where those that come into the neighborhood…know this is a neighborhood where we talk to each other and have relationships.”