Carrie Hawthorne: I own my home, not a short-term rental |

Carrie Hawthorne: I own my home, not a short-term rental

My name is Carrie Hawthorne. I was born and raised in Nevada City; it’s been my home for 40 years.

In the last six years, my fiancée and I were blessed: having two children, who now also get to be raised in the community I’ve loved my whole life.

It wasn’t easy for me, but I finally realized one of my dreams, when I became a Nevada City homeowner. Sadly, not long after, I became a single mother.

I co-own a shop, Kitkitdizzi, in downtown Nevada City. We specialize in selling products, and art, made by local residents and companies. I’m passionate about showcasing the craftsmanship and creativity of our town.

Though I’m a business-owner, the income I make from Kitkitdizzi has never been enough to pay my mortgage, bills, plus provide education, clothes, and food for my kids.

For a while, the pressure I felt to sell my home was huge — it was a heartbreaking thought: losing the stability and safety it provided my new family. Then, I learned about Airbnb. I decided to use their service: listing rooms in my home (only on weekends, when my children stay with their father). It was a godsend!

By using Airbnb I was able, for the first time, to earn enough extra income to allow my family to keep our home, pay our bills and – most important to me of all – gave me the ability to mother my children when I had them weekdays, instead of placing them in full-time day care, while I worked extra jobs, and overtime at my shop, just to keep us afloat.

If you’ve ever used it, you know Airbnb is a great way to travel.

It provides an intimate, affordable experience of any destination.

Before booking a potential guest, I screen them, and read their reviews. Airbnb does an exemplary job, keeping track of which customers have been well-received, and respectful.

It allows me – and other hosts – to be very selective in who we allow in our homes. And it works! My guests have been wonderful people: mostly families, with children of their own, who value that my house is already kid-friendly.

My Airbnb status is registered with our city. Along with other, local hosts, I pay 10 percent TOT tax on all reservations. My guests spend money all weekend, in local restaurants and shops.

As with anything, there are people who’ve misused the ability to host a short-term rental, buying property solely to rent it on Airbnb. That’s not what the service is intended for, so I was relieved when an ordinance passed, November of 2015, that restricted this misuse of Airbnb.

Unfortunately, there are people in our community whose knowledge of Airbnb remains biased by those few who misused the service in the past.

Based on this, they’re seeking to limit everyone’s use of Airbnb to such an extreme extent, it will effectively render the service useless to Nevada City.

Most of our neighbors’ homes won’t qualify. More personally, my home won’t qualify.

Ironically, in its attempt to “protect” our economy, “Yes on Y” will not only reduce tourism, it’ll create a ripple-effect that hurts families like mine, who depend on Airbnb, just to make ends meet.

Under the guise of protecting you, me, and our neighbors, “Yes on Y” will diminish our property rights, and channel our tax dollars into enforcing government surveillance of who we invite into our homes.

This isn’t just about tourism. This isn’t just about money. If “Yes on Y” passes, I will not be able to keep my home.

My store downtown will suffer, both by how I’ll be forced to adapt, and in sales to out-of-town visitors. Most scary to me of all, the quality of my children’s lives will suffer.

I love this town. Nevada City is my home. It’s home to my family, the memories of my past, and hopes for my future. Please, help me keep my home. Vote “No on Y.”

Carrie Hawthorne lives in Nevada City.

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