Having experienced firsthand what the effects of short-term rentals can have on a neighborhood, I understand Keir Whitson’s concerns regarding the possibility of a proliferation of Airbnbs in Rappahannock County. We own a small cottage on the shores of Lake Michigan, built in the late ’50s by my husband’s parents. Although they used the cottage as a summer vacation destination, many houses on the lakeshore were owned by families who lived there year-round, including a number of my husband’s relatives.
As these relatives and friends have passed on, many of the homes have been sold and recently purchased by out-of-towners who have turned them into short-term business rentals. Just as Mr. Whitson suggests might happen in Rappahannock were such short term rentals via Airbnb approved, the neighborhood in Michigan has markedly changed. No longer do we know who all the neighbors are. Each weekend different cars and people “move in” to these homes, which share our shoreline and access road. Local noise ordinances are often ignored with music blaring and firecrackers exploding well into the late hours of the night. Litter from parties is left on the beach; dogs are not curbed; bags of trash sit at the end of driveways after the tenants leave, tempting wild creatures to tear them open to access garbage inside. It is all unsettling, to say the least.