Letter: Communities don’t build a cohesive spirit on the back of statistics and profit seeking
–The report from owners looking to profit from STVRs in R1 zones is perhaps the perfect example of the power of the idea behind Mark Twain’s cautionary advice about relying on “lies, damn lies and statistics.”
It is strange that the authors of the report should lay claim to the wisdom of Winston Churchill, rather than a great American like Mark Twain. I would remind the authors that Winston Churchill also said: “The only statistics you can trust are those you falsified yourself”. For Winston Churchill was wise enough, and concerned enough about his fellow citizens, to realize that there is more to life than numbers.
Communities don’t build a cohesive community spirit on the back of statistics and profit seeking. They build them on the back of mutual respect and long-term relationships. It has to be recognized that, by definition, any residential property in a R1 zone that is used primarily as accommodation for ‘Transient Guests’, will inevitably have a negative impact on the community cohesiveness and the integrity of the neighborhood it is located in.
It is literally impossible for any resident who lives in a R1 zone to develop a productive, supportive and mutually rewarding long-term relationship with transient guests who are only staying in a neighboring home for a few days.
This issue is especially acute and exaggerated when the communities are smaller towns like Paso Robles, where residential communities tend to be more permanent and close knit. As opposed to larger towns and cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco where transient occupancy and greater mobility is more prevalent.
If the authors of the report are so taken with statistics, they should also in good conscience draw attention to this Independent Report on the negative impact of STVRs: https://www.epi.org/publication/the-economic-costs-and-benefits-of-airbnb-no-reason-for-local-policymakers-to-let-airbnb-bypass-tax-or-regulatory-obligations/.
The proven negative impact on affordable housing is clear. 201 STVRs is 201 homes that are not available for those choosing to live and work in Paso Robles. It is also undeniable that STVRs that operate in R1 zones will inevitably disrupt and undermine residential neighborhoods, and the innate nature of community spirit among longterm residents.
Paso Robles has plenty of areas that are zoned for mixed use, and it is here that those investing in, and looking to profit from, STVRs should be permitted. It is irrelevant whether there are 83 or 183 STVRs in R1 zones. A small number in any local community will disrupt those homeowners who bought family homes in the belief that the principle of no transient occupancy would be honored. By approving STVRs in R1 zones this Council is, by definition, undermining the principle of building strong cohesive residential neighborhoods and long-lasting community spirit.
Numbers may sound good in the Council Chamber or look good on paper, but as Mark Twain also said: “Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”