I recently received the “Airbnb” letter from Carmel. My home is listed, but I have never actually rented the room. My neighbors, squirrels and chipmunks, would have no objection to an occasional second car in the garage, but Carmel objects.
“Your home is an area that is classified as a Residential Single Family zone, which means you are welcome to use your home as a residence,” the letter states. “But you are not able to suddenly turn it into a restaurant, a dry-cleaning business, factory or — as is apparently the case now — a hotel or bed-and-breakfast. Doing so would be unfair to your neighbors and to our local businesses and would be contrary to the community’s zoning laws.”
Does everyone who claims a home-office deduction on their IRS tax forms need to apply for a variance? As I am an “independent contractor” as a caregiver for a sick friend, do I need to apply for a variance to continue to do this from my home in the Residential Single Family zone? Do people who sit in their homes selling things on Craig’s List, Etsy, or Ebay – who may even make their living at that – also have to apply for a variance because that is their business?
It is more than odd that the city of Carmel is so eager to interrupt people’s lives for renting out a room for a few weekends on the basis of zoning, but when developers come to the city with a PUD designed for the purpose of subverting existing zoning ordinances, they are welcomed with open arms. No arguments about traffic or property values are strong enough to turn back the massive permanent over-development of a Residential Single Family area. But when a Carmel citizen wishes to have an empty room in her house used in a reasonable fashion, then the city becomes extremely active. I demand that developers be held to the same zoning standards as Carmel wishes to use on individual citizens.
City employees have spent hours researching the pages of Airbnb and who knows what other websites to find which residents have tried to make a few dollars and have some social contact introducing guests to the great amenities that their hometown has to offer. Then the listings had to be compared with the property rolls in Noblesville, at taxpayer expense. Finally, letters were generated and sent out at $6.46 a pop. If that letter went out to 300 people, we are talking about $1,938 of taxpayer money to tell people they are not allowed to use their private property as they wish.
I support Rep. Matt Lehman’s House Bill 1133 which tries to find the balance between the rights of Indiana residents to use their property as they please and protecting home rule. That would keep city governments out of our decisions as to how to live within our own four walls.
Alison Brown, Carmel