On two occasions recently, my husband and I went to Victor to eat dinner at The Brakeman, and found a note on the door indicating that it was closed for the night, and stating which days it would be open that week.
Not only were we disappointed that we would miss out on a great hamburger, we were also confused as to why they would be closed and missing out on business, since we were not the only potential customers there.
We have since learned that it is difficult for businesses in Teton Valley to hire enough help due to lack of affordable housing. Recently, this issue was covered by this paper in the article “Making Do” (Sept 18, 2019). In it, the owner of Big Hole BBQ states that he believes the abundance of short-term rentals have contributed to the problem of unaffordable housing. I agree. Short-term rentals such as Air BNB and VRBO drive up home prices, decrease safety in our neighborhoods and overall harm economies in communities. Unfortunately, the only people who benefit from these types of rentals, are absentee homeowners.
The absentee homeowner does not have to provide adequate parking, as is required by the hotels in the valley; the absentee homeowner does not have to provide for public health and safety by providing adequate septic systems as private homeowners are required to; the absentee homeowner does not have to provide public safety in the establishment of fire ponds like private homeowners do; the absentee homeowner is not there to observe or provide safety to residential neighborhoods when speeding, recklessness, or excessive drinking with accordant behaviors happens, especially when it is in a private HOA. The absentee homeowner does not care if the local economy is harmed, and businesses can’t function normally due to inability to hire adequate staff.
Teton Valley is a beautiful, wonderful place to live. But keeping it this way requires foresight and strategic planning. I call on the Teton County Commissioners and the newly installed Planning and Zoning Commission to protect the future of this valley. I call on them to end short term rentals in our residential areas.