Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Ease Regulations, But Not Countywide

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Ease Regulations, But Not Countywide

In your recent article, “Fairfax County Short-Term Rentals Debated,” published Sept. 6, the writer addresses the regulation of Airbnb-type rentals in the area and reminds us that transient occupancy is currently illegal in the county, though certain residents have begun hosting short-term renters nevertheless.

While I strongly agree with a county resident’s opinion that the costs of short-term residencies far outweigh the benefits in suburban, family neighborhoods (as seen in her example involving the harassment of children by unknown renters), I cannot support the continued illegalization of transient occupancy in the entire county. Having grown up near the City of Alexandria, I know the enormous benefit organizations such as Airbnb, Couchsurfing, and others could have on our low-income areas. The townhomes surrounding the outskirts of the city house some of our poorest citizens, yet lie within less than 10 minutes from Washington, D.C., one of our nation’s top tourist attractions. Short-term rental organizations have already increased wealth in tourist-ridden countries such as Iceland, where many citizens have no college education and have found this as a fast, simple, and effective way to earn extra income while continuing to work full-time in low-paying jobs. For those concerned with neighborhood safety issues, short-term rentals would not be a great disruption to a city in which hotels and bed and breakfasts are already common. Therefore, it is my opinion that we should discontinue the illegalization of transient occupancy near the City of Alexandria, while maintaining the original regulations in all other areas of Fairfax County.

Elissa Esher