Letters to the Editor: June 7 – 13, 2018
Gross Should Listen to Citizens Regarding STLs
As the debate in Fairfax County over legalizing short-term lodging rages on, Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross has cast her ballot in favor. In her News-Press News of Greater Falls Church column last week, Gross noted that the debate has ranged from allowing unlimited short-term lodgings (STL) to continuing the county’s current prohibition barring STL operations. She concluded that the answer lies somewhere in between, that is, allowing but regulating STLs. Gross has announced her vote to allow STLs without waiting for the Board of Supervisors hearing scheduled for June 19.
On April 17, the Mason District Council of Community Associations held a community forum on the STL question. County staff described their proposed regulations, and citizens asked questions and offered opinions. Comments from the more than 60 citizens participating overwhelmingly opposed allowing STLs to operate. A fundamental concern was that regulations would not be able to control bad actors among STL hosts and their guests, including commercial STL operators. While STLs are illegal, they can be identified and shut down; bad actors have no protection under the law. Legalized, they could be shut down only where proven to be in violation of imprecise regulations; the law would provide bad actors generous protection.
Hopefully, Gross will put her vote in favor of STLs back in her pocket and listen to the testimony of citizens in coming hearings. If experiences in communities across the county are any indication, the decision on STLs will have wide-ranging effects on quality of life in Fairfax County residential neighborhoods.
Clyde A. Miller
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