I appreciated Ms. Marlowe's article on the illegal B&B situation in our community, and found it to be very fair to all parties. I would just add a couple of items since I, too, live in the neighborhood highlighted.
Of the seven home[owners] on the street involved, five of us have lived here 23-28 years and one has lived here since they built their house over five years ago. Ms Malnik (the B&B owner) has lived here 4 months. Before she bought the house, she announced her intention to open a B&B, and we neighbors wrote back to let her know we didn't want a business in our established neighborhood, and she should consider buying somewhere else so she wouldn't find herself encumbered by a property she couldn't use for a B&B.
Our neighborhood is designated "multiple use agriculture" so we have extensive gardens, horses, cattle, goats, stock ponds, electrical fences and so forth, which you might find on other two- to three-acre lots in neighborhoods like ours. Our insurance companies have now told us that we all should increase our homeowners’ liability insurance due to incidents that could arise when unknowing transient guests explore these rural attractions.
Ms. Malnik states she beautified her property and pulled knapweed, so have the rest of us—for years. However she is irrigating over 1/2 acre of Dalmation Toadflax, a noxious weed, which is in the flowering stage currently. She states she moved her "honey boxes" after a complaint: actually she moved them after her bees stung livestock and homeowners. She says it's been a dream of hers to open a B&B, but it's an ongoing dream for the rest of us to continue to live in our rural, secure sanctuaries that we've worked hard over the years to cultivate. Ms Malnik states she's complying with the number of customers allowed, and is collecting room taxes, but this all came about only after the neighbors filed complaints to the county.
The county, so far, has done nothing to enforce existing code that requires Ms. Malnik apply for a conditional use permit (which she admitted she needed) and allow a hearing for those of us in the neighborhood. This has been frustrating and time-consuming to say the least. We thought we had a chance to stop this business from intruding into our close-knit and safe neighborhood through existing code, but apparently the county hears the words "business" and "tourism" and bends over backwards trying to find wording to accommodate this.
My husband and I owned a river-guiding business for years, but we were licensed, and paid for all needed permits. No one had to turn us in to get us to do this. It was the known cost of doing business and we willingly complied.
We and our neighbors have been paying property taxes, volunteering in schools and the hospital, bringing flowers to nursing homes, produce to the homeless shelter, and many other positive things that enrich our community, but this seems to count for nothing. The county's interpretations of the code definitions appear to have been manipulated to favor these businesses. Airbnbs are infecting our neighborhoods, and I encourage you to let your public servants know this should not be casually allowed with a wink and a nod.