GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — It’s not uncommon that when someone comes up with a good idea, someone else will, as they say in business, “scale it up.”

Stu Nichols saw that happen with what he and his wife began decades ago.

“My wife and I have been doing short-term rentals now for three decades…before AirBnB even existed,” Stu said.

They own 21 homes mostly in Greensboro that are a mix of short and longer-term rentals.

“It’s always been a side hustle for us, so it’s a way of preparing for retirement and doing stuff that…we love,” Stu said.

But not everyone is on board. The neighborhood of Fisher Park on the north side of downtown Greensboro feels a bit overrun by short-term rentals.

“The short-term rentals are not our neighbors because they’re owned by folks who generally don’t live in the neighborhood, and they rent them out as mini-hotels,” said Sherill Pratt, who lives in Fisher Park.

That’s not necessarily true for Stu and his wife. They live in town and are a quick drive from most of their properties but argue that they’ve been vested in the entire community for years.

“My wife and I are real estate investors, but we’re also very engaged in the community,” Stu said. “I’m on the board of the science center. She’s on the board for Greenhill.”

But he has seen the pushback from some communities which he thinks isn’t always on the mark.

“If you drive through Fisher Park, you’ll see all these signs that say, ‘No unlimited AirBnBs’,” Stu said. “It never was the case that it could be unlimited. About half the homes in Fisher Park are owner-occupied. Those are never going to become short-term rentals. The other half are rentals, and those are divided among short-term and long term. And no one would ever even suggest that all of those would become short-term rentals.”

The folks who live in Fisher Park say there are enough short-term rentals to already cause issues – at least the ones where the owners aren’t close by.

“They leave the enforcement (of noise or other problems) up to the neighbors who have to call the police or the firefighters…over and over, so we want (the city council) to build in better zoning and enforcement,” Pratt said.

Zack Matheny is listening to both sides. He not only is president of Downtown Greensboro, Inc., which works to bring the kind of tourist travel for which short-term rental users are key, but he is also on the city council, and the district he represents covers the Fisher Park neighborhood.

“There are so many folks that come to the Aquatics Center that we see downtown that are beyond what we can hold from a hotel standpoint,” Matheny said. “We all agree. Short-term rentals are here to stay. What we in Greensboro are trying to figure out is how to best regulate them so that we protect our neighborhoods but also understand and help the business.”

Stu says those problems typically work themselves out.


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“Instead of thinking about policing it in a literal sense, I think it’s more efficient to think about how the market is going to regulate these things,” Stu said. “Because the fact is that if neighborhoods begin deteriorating because of these “externalities,” an economist would call this an “externality,” of noise or public intoxication or any of the things that can be associated with development then the market will speak to that…eventually those will go out of business because people will not want to stay in those kinds of units.”

Many of the folks in Fisher Park aren’t convinced, and both sides continue to make their case as Greensboro works out a solution everyone can live with. 

See more of the debate in this edition of The Buckley Report.