I would like to congratulate the City of Charleston for the many man hours zoning enforcement racked up in order to shut down my experience hosting short-term guests through Airbnb. They must feel proud that even though my guests were so low-impact that my neighbors directly across the street had no idea I was hosting, and the most damning testimony during my hearing was that a strange woman was sitting on my porch reading a book, the city made this issue a priority.
Today, there are 684 Airbnb listings under Charleston, yet only 30 to 40 tickets were issued in all of 2014. Therefore, I commend the city on its unwavering dedication to making sure that I was ticketed twice during a three-month period. Diligence that necessitated my cancelling dozens of reservations and taking my ad off the website. Several of the cancelled guests simply booked another room with another host listed among the aforementioned 684.
However, most cancelled guests stated that because of the uncertainty surrounding Airbnb in Charleston, they would go to Savannah instead. (Savannah established ordinances to accommodate short-term hosting in November 2014.)
Ironically, while contacting my guests to inform them that I would be unable to honor their reservations, I watched a prime-time commercial for Airbnb. It spoke of benefits and convenience, but mostly it focused on the personal quality of the experience due to the hospitality of the ambassador hosts. Thank goodness you’re keeping the city safe from all that hospitality nonsense. I’m sure the meals uneaten, wait-staff untipped, cocktails unconsumed, carriage and taxi rides not taken and historic homes and gardens untoured is a small price to pay for this targeted crackdown.
The local businesses where I bought necessities (wine, coffee, cleaning supplies, toiletries, bedding and towels) surely understand that their drop in business due to my business closing was necessary to eradicate one short-term host.
I am blessed to own a large, comfortable home that can easily accommodate guests, and I feel a sense of obligation to share this blessing. As in the past, I will continue to host at no charge guests speakers at the College of Charleston and Gage Hall, guest singers at Grace Episcopal, Ronald McDonald families and political candidates and staff. I have reached out to family and friends urging them to visit, and many have. But, if the house gets too empty I’m sure those panhandling on Lockwood Drive would welcome a place to shower and sleep.
In any event, I will continue to host quiet, well-behaved guests. The only difference is the thousands of dollars already lost, for me and for the City of Charleston.