In the recent spate of comments about short-term lodging on the social network website Nextdoor, who see STL as a boon to Laguna Beach and are full of ridicule and condemnation for Village Laguna, City Council and staff, sadly lacking is a consideration of what this might mean for the long-term future of our town.
Consider this: Our Sister City, St. Ives, in Cornwall, England, no longer has a stable, long-term residential soul like ours and is deemed a ‘ghost’ town by many, because the unchecked proliferation of short-term lodging resulted in fewer permanent residents and more absentee owners with homes vacant except in the lucrative, summer rental months. Because of this STL invasion caused primarily by recent online media, the St. Ives Council finally held a referendum that was passed by 80% of its residents, to restrict the purchase by absentee owners of second and third new homes. The High Court of England ruled in favor of the referendum last year.
In light of results like this, please think about the future of Laguna, not now, not tomorrow, but in five or 10 years. We may well go down a similar path and become a town with no soul, like picturesque St. Ives or hip Balboa Island, if we allow unlimited short-term lodging in our residential areas. Our supply of long-term affordable rentals will be drastically diminished, and we will become just a place of profit-making, short-term rentals. We should beware those unintended future consequences, and work together to protect our residential neighborhoods from rampant commercialism before it’s too late.
Charlotte Masarik, Laguna Beach