Letter: Don’t blame short-term rentals for the housing crisis


Recently, the “leaders” of various mountain communities wrote a joint letter and tried to be nice while calling Airbnb a liar. But, they all reside in glass houses. Although various city “leaders” criticize the Airbnb study on the impact of short-term housing as “…not entirely true”, they do not present contradictory facts, only contrary opinions. If these “leaders” want to lead, they will stop the class struggle.

The “facts” they say are not addressed:

  1. “…that the opportunity for a high return on investment from short-term rentals is driving investment buying and driving up home prices.”

This is basic economics and has nothing to do with long-term rental inventory. The reason short-term rentals are increasing is due to a limited supply of short-term rentals relative to demand. It says nothing about long-term rental inventory. But long-term rental rates have also increased, which also makes it an attractive investment. The reason rates have gone up for both, and prices for both, is because there hasn’t been enough housing built. And this is clearly addressed in the conclusion of the Airbnb study.

2. “Using rental data from 2019, the report does not reflect conditions that have ‘changed drastically over the past three years’.”

The housing shortage predates the pandemic, so “leaders” should not use it as an excuse for the housing crisis or for “more urgent” solutions. It’s the same problem, which will have the same solutions as before the pandemic.

3. “That the report does not address the relationship between job increases and increased competition for housing resources”

How does the report not address this relationship? It seems that our political “leaders” have not addressed this relationship. If the various political powers had not hindered the development of housing in mountain communities in parallel with the growth of their economies, there would not have been the crisis that we are currently experiencing. Would they now suggest that mountain businesses close their doors and lay off their employees to deal with the housing crisis?

I have been coming to the Vail Valley regularly for 37 years and have owned property here for 17 years. There has been a housing problem in the mountains for as long as I can remember. Airbnb and VRBO didn’t invent short-term rentals, especially in resort communities. STR growth has not significantly outpaced general economic growth in mountain communities. Demand for STRs and long-term rentals has increased. Most of this is attributed to the prolonged economic expansion that was experienced from 2009 to 2020 (interrupted only by the pandemic). The need for housing was not sufficiently taken into account during this prolonged expansion.

However, housing demand has accelerated during the pandemic as many people have chosen to “shelter in place” or work remotely in a much nicer location than in the city. At the same time, the housing crisis that had not been resolved for decades has worsened. So now everyone is blaming the pandemic and looking for a “quick fix”.

The ‘leaders’ respond to the reports’ proposed solutions by saying that it ‘… fails to mention the work these communities have already done in this regard and offers no suggestions as to where the additional revenue needed for these grants will come from. . ”

I’m sure it was an oversight by Airbnb and the authors of the study not to give local politicians credit for trying, but the Airbnb study implies that the ‘executives’ don’t not done enough. The response from the “leaders” also implies that the proposed solution takes too long and is too expensive. That’s a bit like saying that developing the COVID vaccine is too expensive and takes too long, so let’s all drink bleach.

Moreover, with such high rents, the “leaders” do not need more income. They have to step aside and let people build. How long has the City of Vail been interfering with Vail Resorts’ efforts to build Booth Heights?

The housing shortage is not caused by STRs. It is shifting blame and pitting one community against another.

Michael Moore
Avon and Spicewood, TX


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