The Feb. 8 meeting on Short Term Rentals (STRs) was mostly attended by people who have a vested interest in making STRs legal everywhere and all over Flathead County. We had real estate people, B&B people, property managers, and a lot of people illegally renting out STRs asking the board to open up the floodgates and some advocated doing away with any regulations. Thank you Mark Mussman who stood up to the pressure to make a decision immediately and encouraged the board to take more time to think about this and discuss it at the next meeting. Mark said that 80 percent of the written comments about this amendment were against granting STRs, but the majority of those in attendance were for adopting the allowance of STRs immediately.
We need intelligent, thoughtful, compassionate, logical board members and the public to look at the bigger picture and not rush into something with more litigation problems looming.
Things to ponder:
- The Flathead County Planning and Zoning Office has an obligation to protect and preserve our property values. Our homes are the most important and valued investment we make. Their decisions affect our quality of living and our property values. The number of prospective buyers shrinks when they discover there are vacation rentals (even multiple rentals) next door and even more so camps and retreats plus STRs.
- Who should pay for the additional cost of law enforcement or county officials in enforcing STR violations?
- Citizens today are better educated and their concerns need to be heard and given more weight. When 80 percent of the letters opposed STRs that needs to be given as much weight as those who are for it and lead to some modification of the amendment as it is written. Placing caps on the number of STRs per parcel, and allowing only one STR per parcel seems like a reasonable limit. Some neighborhoods should be excluded from STRs due to road, noise, safety, proximity to neighbors, and environmental conditions, and infringement and intrusion on the neighbors.
- Does the county have the right to allow STRs that exceed the state laws regarding public nuisances, health, sanitary, environmental and safety requirements? Could the county be sued along with the STRs for ignoring state law violations that impact the lives and property values of the neighbors? An unregulated allowance of STRs opens up everyone for unintended consequences.
The runaway gravy train needs regulation and limits so it doesn’t crash and burn, run over people, or fall off the tracks!