Short-term rental solution is a local call

In regard to Airbnb and short-term rentals, it is unfortunate that Williamsburg City Council feels under threat of being preempted by the General Assembly. By its very nature, this is a local issue. Ideally it would be addressed in a deliberate, reflective manner informed by a clear sense of a municipality’s present identity and future hopes.

Imposition of a one-size-fits-all answer from Richmond would almost certainly be worse than anything City Council came up with. What council does can be undone or redone with relative ease, after all, but not so the General Assembly.

For now, council was best advised to limit short-term rentals to entrance corridors — a decent minimum. Beyond that is problematical on a number of counts. Once conferred, a right is difficult to take away because a constituency group has been created that will resist any such effort.

Former Mayor Clyde Haulman’s Feb. 6 Gazette letter offers a number of useful suggestions for different scenarios, but their very number reflects the complexity of the problem. Moreover, every one requires a clear view of the role of various neighborhoods, both in themselves and in relation to one another and to Williamsburg overall, now and in the future. It is not clear that such a view presently exists.

If and when one does, a more comprehensive set of regulations will certainly be in order to support it, together with changes in any number of other areas as well.

John Alweynse


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