Consequences of Short-Term Rentals

A home is a long term major investment

By Kathleen Epeneter

After attending the Lakeside Planning meeting on Jan. 3, it was obvious that the residents present were fed plenty of theoretical fluff from Flathead officials and representatives of the Northwest Montana realtors.

Residents were there to ensure that their property would remain protected by R2 zoning as it exists with a minimum rental of 30 days.

The concept of short-term rental is a commercial enterprise and should be left to hotels, motels, camps and bed and breakfasts.

A home is a long term major investment, a lifestyle, a sanctuary. Together, homes form a neighborhood. A friendly, quiet, safe neighborhood is a treasure to residents who have chosen and maintained their homes expecting these benefits to endure.

The value of a lakefront home next to a short-term rental operation will likely decline. Prospective buyers turn their noses up at the idea of a stream of strangers for neighbors. Divulging neighboring short-term rental amendments to R2 zoning trickles down to realtors, too, who will end up working harder to earn less commission.

Additionally, short-term rentals place certain unneeded stresses on volunteer fire departments,

the county health department and the enforcement capabilities of the county planning and zoning department. Presently there is only one

employee assigned to code enforcement. By the time a complaint is filed, the issue would be long gone with another issue likely taking its place.

Flathead Planning and Zoning have had to deal with rental violations on properties on either side of me. During the cumbersome process, the fleeting seasons of two summers were greatly upset. Emails, phone conversations, picture taking, loose and

barking dogs left unattended, incredibly loud music, drunken behavior, on site visits from Flathead Planning and Zoning along with the presence of Flathead County sheriffs during several incidents were alarming and frightening.

As an eight-year resident of Lakeside, I am against allowing gains from short-term rentals on the backs of long-term residents.

Kathleen Epeneter

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