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Short-term rental rules penalize hardworking people 

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Dear City Council Members, and County Assessor Steve Schleiker:
As an Airbnb ‘Super Host’ I would like to express my appreciation for your respectable roles in our city, and also share some requests and concerns. I would request that instead of penalizing or taxing the hard working STR citizens of Colorado Springs, you vote unanimously to provide rewards and incentives to them for their hard work. Reinvent a method for upholding our most diligent, creative, and entrepreneurial citizens, who make Colorado Springs a better place to live, and visit, because that is what they do. Speaking as one who aspires to uphold these characteristics, please allow me to share my perspective as to why.
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1. We pay our taxes and are home owners. We claim our income and pay taxes on it already. We purchase goods that are taxed as well.
2. We buy from local stores, vendors, and contractors and help our economy thrive.
3. We invest greatly in our homes and make our neighborhoods a better place to live. Our guests write reviews. If our places are not clean, safe, and a pleasant place to be, our ratings fall and those places lose their potential guests.
4. We increase the tourist economy in Colorado Springs by allowing many to come to visit that may not otherwise be able to afford it, as we keep our prices low, and do not have a ‘sneak tax’ placed on our lodgings, as sadly, do our counterparts at the hotels and motels.
5. More than 1100 of us have applied for and gained permits at more than 100 dollars each to ‘follow the rules.’ But we do not get to see the benefits of those dollars. Instead people are paid to ‘hunt us down,’ and see if we are in compliance. This irony is depressing.
6. We are not big shots from other places buying property, and I know each of you actually know this. We are the little guys trying to make ends meet, pay for retirement, and working two jobs. Thus, we are less a burden on society.
7. There are more reasons… but to save space…

You don’t have to tax us or penalize us. You can also offer rewards and incentives to our fellow hotel and motel owners who struggle already with the taxes they pay. (Lessen their taxes too.) You can think outside of the box, not follow suit regarding what other cities might be doing, (why would we want to mirror other entities?) and take a fresh look at how you will encourage us and not punish us. Could Colorado Springs be the place that rewards the sort of citizen behaviors as demonstrated by STR owners and hosts? Isn’t that one of the highest forms of citizenry?

As a school teacher, community volunteer, grandmother, community of faith member, and tax payer, I ask you to please think of this situation in completely different terms. What if Mr. Schleicher and the City Council said to themselves, “These people are doing such a great thing for the ‘Springs, we should honor them and reward them.” When you get a complaint, please do investigate, but please don’t ‘hunt down’ those who are doing the best they can with the little they have, and doing good things for the community.

I am a property owner who has rented to folks on a long term basis. Sadly, most of the renters I have had destroyed our property leaving me with thousands of dollars’ worth of damage. The last bunch were drug addicts and squatters. We have found that our Airbnb guests are clean, courteous and responsible, and they have public reviews written on them as well. If they do not behave correctly, they jeopardize their rights to stay with others in the future.

City Council, and Mr. Schleiker, you don’t have to vote against us by (over) taxing us, creating burdensome regulations, (such as how many Airbnb’s can be on one block. The market takes care of that sort of thing on its own), or taking our money to pay someone to become watchdogs over us. If neighbors have issues, let them follow the law and call the police.

Each of you true ‘business-wise’ folks know my suggestions follow civility, good government and logic. Each of you must know that the ethical and moral answer is not to take our money, freedom, pursuit of happiness, livelihoods, security and privacy, when you look at the issues plainly and fairly. Please, be on our team. We are pretty good folks.

Don’t allow Colorado Springs to be a place where we follow the trend of greedy cities by going after the hard-working, dependable people in any way, shape or form. Instead, reward those who would open their homes to our visitors, and have made a way to provide for themselves.

Respectfully and Sincerely,
Chelley Gardner-Smith

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