Short term rentals are breaking apart the fabric of our community

I've lived in Lafayette for the last five years. My husband and I bought a house in old town, hoping to raise our family here. We have a two year old now. It is a truly lovely neighborhood that I am happy to share with tourists, because I understand the draw, but there is a limit to that. I have watched 5 residences within half a block of my home - including our next door neighbor - turn into short term rentals.

When we moved in, there were a handful of small houses nearby that were able to serve as affordable housing for lower income families, whether by purchase or long term rental. The lot on the next block over, two houses down, used to house multiple long term renters, including a small family with two children who I used to say hi to when they would play on the lawn. I have watched that property be purchased by an investor external to the neighborhood who has converted all three small residences into airbnbs. That's three fewer neighbors than I had before. The house next door used to be owned by an old lady who had been here for decades. When it was sold, the new owner is hardly around, and rents the property for more than half the year to short term renters. It would have been the perfect home for a small family to buy and build a life in Lafayette. Those are only two of the several I have noticed pop up on nearby properties.

I love this area, and the increase in short term rentals has been a huge disappointment to me. I hate to see the neighborhood turn over from long standing owners and long term renters with stake in the community, to investors who only want to make a dollar in our town.

I am comfortable with families renting out accessory dwellings as short term rentals, but I would like to see us limit the number of rentals and ultimately support the community, and certainly prevent the rental of single dwellings on a property (or all dwellings on a property). Long term renters and owners support the economy as well through patronage of local business and hosting friends from near and far (I know we often bring in friends and family for Lafayette's many festivals, as a family living in a single dwelling), and we should prioritize the presence of longer term residents over shorter term vacationers.

I would like to see a limit on location of rentals as well, as we have an abnormally high density of STRs in the Old Town area. I would like to see a ratio of permits as low as 1 in every 20 houses on a given block or small collection of dwellings.

Additionally, I think it would be helpful to improve the availability of actual commercial BnBs, nice motels + suites in some of the locations close to the downtown strip (e.g. the first block off of S. Public road and no further) so we can maintain the support or tourists in the area with officially designated spaces. We have had trouble finding nearby commercial rentals when our family members come to town and would like to stay. The closest availability is down by the hospital, which forces people to take advantage of STRs in the neighborhood, when they otherwise might choose a commercial property.

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