As we discuss in the Highlands whether we should regulate and tax Airbnb rentals, let us keep an open mind.
According to Forbes, the Hudson Valley and Catskills are the second-most popular Airbnb destination in the U.S. Some places spend millions trying to attract visitors; we should welcome the fact that people from all over the world are discovering the beauty of where we live.
Airbnb has been the biggest economic engine in our area for at least a decade. Guests typically arrive on Friday and leave on Sunday. They shop at Foodtown, The Main Course and Yannitelli’s, and they eat at Jimmy’s, Hillary’s and Cathryn’s. So far we haven’t had any real problems except occasional complaints about noise or parking, which can always happen.
Charging a “room tax” will quickly hit the point of diminishing returns. It will likely grow as it has in Narragansett (where it is now nearly 10 percent) and New York City (20 percent). I know firsthand how it can deter visitors because I have stopped going to Narragansett.
Airbnb’ing is not a cash cow. It’s a supplement. If both my Airbnb properties rented every single weekend, it would still not pay much more than half my taxes and expenses.
There is a suggestion that investor money is or could buy multitudes of properties for Airbnb’ing, but I am not aware of a single instance of this in Philipstown.
Airbnb properties may have temporarily taken some rental properties off the market, but market forces are correcting the imbalance. Many hosts are realizing that annual rentals may be more profitable considering utility costs, wear and tear and the fact that Airbnb guests only come on weekends and are absent at least a quarter of the year.
Finally, this type of regulation and taxation borders on infringing on property owners’ long-established rights. Airbnb is essentially boarding, an implicit privilege when you pay your property taxes. Everyone who has seen It’s a Wonderful Life knows that if George Bailey hadn’t been born, his mother would be running a boarding house. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
This not a new “racket” that a swarm can form around to hunt for a piece of the action. Please weigh all aspects of the issue so that together we can do what is right for our community and this beautiful Hudson Valley.
Mahmoud Shahbodaghi, Garrison