WRITING OUT LOUD: Show up


Decisions are made by those who show up. Our local government is our neighbors who stepped up to the challenge to lead. It is more common than not for them to go about their work without anyone else there. I’ve attended countless public hearings where no one representing the public showed up.

Industry is usually present when the issue concerns them — those with a vested interest generally show up, especially if their interest is financial.

It takes nothing to comment on a post complaining about this policy, that mandate or how and where vacation rentals should be run. You don’t even have to read the story or take the time to learn the history of the issue.

But every issue has at least two sides. Progress is usually somewhere in the middle. Every one of us is responsible. We should be aware of issues that concern and effect us, and we should hold those who represent us accountable.

I made an assertion in this space that the government affords us certain rights. Some took issue with that, stating that we are born with rights. I disagree. Our government is the protector and guarantor of any rights I’m aware of.

Just how safe and how free would we be without laws and a means to enforce them?

At the local level, our government protects our right to use our property, defining our rights and obligations. There are defined land use zones, including residential zones and commercial zones. Rentals are, of course, licensed and regulated.

I live on a small, dead-end street with seven houses on it. We’re all homeowners. We’re friendly, mostly quiet, and we look out for each other.

My house was a vacation rental when we bought it. The idea of someday using it as a vacation rental is appealing, but probably not so much for my neighbors. While the neighbors were perhaps initially relieved when we moved in, the welding shop and forge my teenager has going in the garage might be worse than the occasional loud party of vacationers or extra cars on the street.

The house next door to me could probably house a whole sorority or a fraternity if it was a rental. I’m glad our small street is all owner occupied. I hope it stays that way. I recognize that position is completely at odds with my desire to not have my property rights restricted.

Of course I can’t have it both ways. I also recognize that my position would likely be much different if I weren’t living in my house, if I wanted to use it sometimes as a vacation rental and other times stay there with my family.

This issue is so much bigger than me, my street and my town. Tourism is one of the economic pillars of our economy. Housing affordability is a critical issue. Livability is important to all of us. This is an important one to watch, to understand, to show up for.

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