Long-term thinking for short-term rentals 

Several contributors have recently expressed their angst with the thought of short-term rental properties in Rappahannock County. Almost all, not unsurprisingly, are not in favor of sharing the beauty and tranquil nature of this special place with those less fortunate but perhaps of equal means.

Yes, different cars and different people can create stress, especially for those who don’t want, need or desire change (with the exception of faster and better internet and cell phone service, of course). And yes, people often bring their bad habits with them, many of which are no worse than the bad habits of the people that have lived next door for the last 25 years or so.

I would suggest that embracing the short-term rental community from a policy perspective, setting high expectations, and then monitoring the results might prove to be successful. Could it be possible that we might actually enjoy the diversity that these “move-ins” might bring? A vacant house at the end of your driveway won’t afford much company and the lights will be always out. Guests from around the world, however, will be purchasing local gasoline and supplies, dining at local restaurants and drinking local brews and beverages. Some of these are things that even your current neighbors don’t do. Guests from around the world might even be more fun, too!

As for the “slippery slope,” small rural localities have been sliding for quite some time now. Paying for roads, schools, and public services (such as fire and EMS services) can be enhanced by the right combination of tourism and future thinking that says “Welcome” and not, “Stay Home.”

As the owner and host of an Airbnb (not in Virginia), I know and understand the challenges posed by short-term vacation rentals. I also believe that NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) can become WELCOME with positive thinking, appropriate planning, and the right combination of compassion and grace.

Mike Murphy
Boston

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