To The Daily Sun,
An Open Letter to the City Council:
Are you ready to change the single-family zone, the choice of single-family homeowners, so some homeowner can flip their family home to an income-producing investment by hosting some invisible tourists or some claim of hardship?
If you remove owner-occupied, you are changing RS to RG or RA, zones that allow rooming, boarding and lodging.
Are you more willing to satisfy the visitors that are here today and gone tomorrow than you are to your own local citizens, the 16,000 that stayed loyal to Laconia for a half of a century — the ones that live, work, play or shop here and support local businesses, social and civic services and the municipal government all year?
The city wants more people, industries, jobs and workers to help the economy. Yet, the workers cannot find affordable housing. As more homes are purchased for investments, they are off the market for local employees.
History is repeating itself. In the mid-’80s, locals had to move out of their hometowns. Low-wage workers couldn’t afford the cost of housing. This year, our tourist businesses suffered a severe shortage of employees.
Let me give you an example of how a senior citizen contributes to Laconia. Ladies of my LHS ’52, who were born during the Depression, have met for lunch in local restaurants every month for over 24 years. We donate to the Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul and the Lakes Region Scholarship Foundation. We buy local for gifts, groceries, cars, gas, fuel. We hire housecleaners, landscapers and repairmen, donate to or work for charities, churches, schools and non-profits, attend events, serve on boards and juries, and definitely use medical services. Seniors support saving our historical buildings — the Colonial, Belknap Mill, Gale and Goss Library, Perley Oak, perhaps St. Joseph Church. We share our wisdom when we stand at podiums addressing issues important to our community and our quality of life.
Rules are written but not enforced — officials don’t see illegal left-hand turns or parking on streets, sidewalks, sub-lawns and front lawns. It’s frustrating when tasks aren’t done — potholes and roads aren’t repaired.
Today, we are the ones that have to report the infractions on neighbors we like and then it is shoot the messenger. Making the neighbors the enforcers is an unhealthy responsibility. One needs to know where this may lead to and be determined to get it right.
Short-term renters are doing something illegal knowingly. Yet, this council’s latest amendments would make it easier for them by removing owner-occupied; cutting the days for stays of between one and 90 to one and 14 (other communities are upping the days to 120) and increasing in effect and renewals for one to two years.
I’m here to reason with this city council before you make a decision on Short-Term Rental Regulations.
Who do you represent today, now that all the tourists and many of the hosts or owners are in their homes far away ... the invisible guests or the loyal locals?