A group of Auburn residents is speaking out against short-term rental units and warning against the dangers they pose to the value of neighborhoods in Auburn. The group has placed signs reading, “Don’t hotel our neighborhoods,” on several streets and roads in Auburn in an effort to draw attention to the increasing presence of short-term rentals in Auburn.
Short-term rentals are self contained dwellings that are rented out for a short period of time, often through services like Airbnb.
Cathey Donald, an Auburn resident, said the introduction of short-term rental homes in neighborhoods around Auburn takes away from the value and experience of neighborhoods.
“People are purchasing homes in good faith that there won’t be commercial development next door,” Donald said.
With city government officials considering policy to regulate where short-term rentals are allowed, some residents are taking steps to speak out against encroaching rental units.
Residents said the problem with the rental homes is the fact that some residents could pay little to no mind about what happens to the neighborhood communities, which defeats the purpose of living in a neighborhood.
“These people are literally here today and gone tomorrow; they don’t care about what happens to the neighborhood,” Donald said. “And sometimes even the owners are from out of state, so you can’t argue that they care about the City.”
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As current policy stands, even the requirements and conditions for current city ordinances are being called into question as homes are being rented out on the weekends against regulations and no enforcement of laws is being made.
George Neely, another Auburn resident, said that the introduction of unsupervised university students poses a risk to the quality of the neighborhoods.
“There is a short-term rental home across the street from me that has housed college students for some time now,” Neely said. “I’m not saying they’re all like this, but I have seen them have parties and get drunk and naked in the front yard — nobody wants to see that from their house.”
Linda Dean, an Auburn resident, said that there is also a risk to the families that live in neighborhoods with short-term rentals on the rise.
“There are children who live here, and they grow up with neighbors who know them and watch for them playing in the streets,” Dean said. “When people come in and out of the [rental] home, they don’t know their neighbors, and don’t know to look out for these kids.”
One of the biggest issues the group has with the rentals is the fact that the members feel helpless to stop their encroachment due to the long process required to change anything.
“There is a short-term rental task force, but you talk to them and they can only recommend change,” Dean said. “Then it goes to the Planning Commission who may or may not recommend a change, and then it goes to the City Council for vote, too.”
The group said they have sent numerous emails and attended public meetings and forums about short-term rentals, but they have seen “little to no evidence of change.”
“We have a city government who are supposed to keep control. They should be doing just that,” Dean said.
The group also wanted to specify that they are not against short-term rentals entirely, just in specific zones and areas that were intended to be protected from rental units.
“I do think that the rental units are good for local economy and can bring a lot to the city,” Dean stated. “But they need to stay in their allotted zones and stay out of our neighborhoods.”
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