Posts Tagged ‘Stranger Danger’

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From where I stand, there are only two types of people who like Short-term rentals (STRs).  Those who own one and those who don’t live next door to one.   Unfortunately, most people fall into one of these two categories.  It’s not until you take a deep dive into this industry do you realize that they don’t belong in residential neighborhoods.

When there’s a group titled “Mom Against” something, it usually means there’s a problem – and there’s a Moms Against Short-term Rentals. One might ask why?  

Well, the group of concerned moms shares a list of community erosion factors that owner-unoccupied STRs have caused in communities across the nation from a documented increase in crime rate and long-term rental costs to a downshift in job quantity and quality and a false increase in housing prices. [1] [2]  

If that doesn’t concern you, maybe this will.

Since May 2019,  the Moms report that there have been 300+ STR shootings in the US.  In fact, as of January 2023, their numbers were at least 127 killed and 282 injured. Also, since these houses are owner-unoccupied, drug cartels and human traffickers are now using STRs to carry out their business.

In 2022, eight people were arrested in Georgia after using a short-term rental where investigators say multiple suspects help sell a minor for sex. The STR was a mile from the local high school. In Jan 2023, after a 3 ½ -month investigation  – 3 ½ months! – Buffalo police raided an AirBnB and seized over 14 kilos of cocaine.  The STR guests? A Mexican Drug cartel.  And just last week, a fugitive wanted by the FBI for the murder of an 8-month-old baby was arrested at a Greenville, NC AirBnB after an hours-long stand-off with law enforcement.  Someone else had made the booking for him.  So much for background checks.  

One reason you don’t hear more about these incidents is because AirBnB has a special “Black Box” unit that pays millions to make these stories go away. [3]

No matter what you believe, there really are no good guests when you live next to an STR.  That’s because every STR guest – and that may include you – is a STRanger to the parent or neighbor who lives next door!  

In short, that’s the real issue with Short-term rentals: STRANGERS! — a recognized potential danger to all parents.

Over the past three years, we have estimated over 1000 STRangers have stayed next door.  1000!  Some for a week.  Some for just the weekend. Over 1000 strangers have used our private road.  1000 STRangers have had access to our home, our property – OUR CHILDREN!  

Imagine not being able to let your young children play outside unsupervised – even for a minute – because there’s a house of STRangers next door – some of who are STRangers to the STR hosts themselves.    

Want to organize a “Neighborhood Watch”?  Well, toss out that idea because you no longer know who should be in your neighborhood because you no longer know your neighbors.

Every Sunday morning is ruined by a fleet of guests’ cars leaving followed by an influx of cars of the cleaning crew, who come and go, as they prepare the house for the next set of STRangers to arrive, making every Sunday night  “Move-in Day”.  All you can do as a neighbor, is wait and wonder: Will the new group of strangers know how to find the house? Follow the rules? Have dogs?  Arrive at a decent time or not, waking you and the kids – again?  The list goes on and on – and that’s if you’re one of the lucky ones and the STR guests stay 7 days and you, as a neighbor, only have to deal with this intrusion once a week!

For the most part, owner-unoccupied STRs are unregulated businesses in residential zones.  

Many are owned and operated by folks who either don’t live in our community or even our State! Many with multiple listings, making these STRs de facto hotels with rooms that are connected not by halls and pathways but online.

We’ve been threatened and later sued by the industry at a cost of over $30,000 over the last three years just to protect and defend my family.  We’ve also been told to move – even though we owned our home for seven years before an STR moved in next door.  Even if we chose to move, where would we go?  STRs can show up anywhere.

That’s why local municipalities need to ban all owner-unoccupied STRs in Neighborhood Residential areas and increase the minimum length of stay for a rental in those zones to 90 days or more, slamming shut the Megan’s Law Loophole –  the STR loophole that allows sexual predators into our neighborhoods without having to report to law enforcement.

As you can see from the answer to Number 11 on the DCJS website, like in most states, sexual predators in New York, at every level, have 10 days in which they have to contact the DCJS when establishing a new residence.  That means, a Sexual Predator can stay at a Short-Term Rental (STR) in a residential neighborhood and not have to notify law enforcement.   

However, since an STR is not a permanent resident, an STR guest is considered a Transcient and never has to report — no matter how long s/he stays. So, if you have an STR operating in your neighborhood, you may never know a sex offender is living next door — until it’s too late.   

The Electronic Security and Targeting of Online Predators Act also gives Sexual Predators the same 10-day window regarding changes in “Internet accounts with Internet service providers belonging to such offenders and e-mail addresses and designations sed by such offenders for the purposes of chat, instant messaging, social networking or other similar internet communication…” giving these sex offenders plenty of time to online stalk you or your kids.

As a parent living in a neighborhood with an STR, this is unacceptable.

This is a loophole that might appear easy to close, right?  However, it has taken my wife and me over three years of advocacy to get something close to being done in New York State — and trying to get any news agency to report on this loophole has been virtually impossible.

Though I believe that the governing of Zoning and controlling STRs should remain a local issue, it’s my understanding that the monitoring of sexual predators is a State issue, and I believe, only the Attorney General can close this loophole.  Also, since Megan’s Law was signed into law by President Clinton, our federal Representatives can close this loophole, as well. 

So, why are so many of these elected officials silent on this issue? Maybe you should call them up and ask them?

Parents have the right to know who lives next door in a residential community!  The houses in our residential neighborhoods were built to become homes, not hotels.   Likewise, Neighborhoods are for neighbors – not STRangers. 

That’s why I’m running for office. #VoteDobkowski2023. I’ll put Families First! Follow my campaign on Twitter @jimdobkowski


James is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the SoulThe Christmas Save, and two children’s books: The Second Prince and Klaus: The Gift-giver to ALL 

As a writer, James’s appearances include Newsweek, The Inside Success Show, Bob Salter (CBS Radio), Mike Siegel, Mancow, and more.  

Beyond writing, James worked with At-Risk youth in Southern California for over six years.  His contributions to the classroom — featured on local television and in the LA Daily News and the Los Angeles Times’ Burbank Leader — earned him the honors of “Teacher of the Year”.    James was also twice honored by a CASDA Scholar as the teacher who had the greatest influence on that student.   As an educator, James also appeared twice on America Live with Megyn Kelly. 

Today, James lives in New York where he continues to teach — and write.   Besides his books, you can follow his musing on this blog Corporation You.

To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman/McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988 or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.

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