Don’t turn island into an #airbnbhell

To the editor:

Your coverage of the town council meeting for short-term rentals is remarkably one-sided.

There also were voices opposed to short-term rentals, citing personal experiences with disrespectful guests, a threat to the community fabric of Jamestown and inflated long-term rental prices and real estate.

Yet, they were not acknowledged in your story, and largely dismissed at the meeting.

There are reasons other communities banned short-term rentals, and why the hashtag #airbnbhell exists.

Short-term rentals hollow out communities. Those who live on their rental property should absolutely be allowed rentals to help support their livelihood. But those gobbling up investment properties to “rent” hurt the town.

More and more will come, and the majority won’t always live here. At the meeting, one proponent of short-term rentals was so dismissive of the rise in housing costs he suggested affordable housing could be built on the community farm. It is a shame.

Renting to war college attendees is one thing. These families support our schools and business. Most Airbnbs can make the owner as much money in one month as a semester of rental to the college. Thus, short-term rentals also hurt those who have come here for generations to teach and learn.

The Airbnb effect is real. To watch what has become of Newport and ignore it is baffling. The council and those buying investment properties to “rent” on Jamestown should remember what makes this island special are the people who live here.

Tim O’Connell
Clarke Street