News and notes from Reston (tm).

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Sharing Economy Stops at Reston, Sort Of

Airbnb drbThat great government contracting job strapping bombs to dolphins providing "services" to the Federal Office of Subregulation Enforcement of Federal Office Regulations, Micronesia Region not bringing in enough "cheddar," as the kids haven't said in years? Well, no worries! You can just strap a giant pink mustache on the front of your car and start driving for Uber or Lyft... or you could really bring in the cash by offering to rent out your swank 70s condo to tourists excited about mixed-use suburban development, or being an unreliable hour-long Metro ride away from the inner-city hellhole that is downtown DC, through a service like Airbnb. Fans of recently demolished brutalist architecture and exciting midscale chain dining will be blazing a path to your door before you know it!

Only not.

As Confidential Restonian Operative "Elizabeth" put it: "RA has gotten all hot under the collar about Airbnb, and has begun sending official cease-and-desist letters, written by actual lawyers not the DRB, to the peasants."

In fact, our favorite homeowners association has created a fancy new home-sharing policy, inappropriate hyphen and all. It states:

Despite changing times, Reston has an obligation to uphold and enforce its covenants in accordance with their terms and conditions, and as informed or interpreted by local ordinances, when appropriate.. Fairfax County recently issued guidance on its interpretation of the Zoning Ordinance with regard to short-term rentals and Reston has begun enforcing its own covenants in accordance with that interpretation.

Reston has a duty to its Members to enforce the covenants and restrictions put in place to preserve the character and serenity that has made Reston the community it is today. As the County has now officially determined that short-term rentals violate the Zoning Ordinance, Reston has a duty to enforce the covenants incorporating the Zoning Ordinance and to take action against Members in violation thereof.

There's a bunch of other stuff about Section 6.2(b)(17) of the Reston Master Deed, but we all know that by heart, right?

But not all is lost! If you live in one of our groovy earth-toned single-family homes, you could apply for a Very Special Exception to run your home as a bed and breakfast, which means you can have "five or fewer guest rooms... rented to transient visitors for a period not to exceed 30 days." (Insert obligatory joke about in-laws here.)

As CRO "Elizabeth" points out, "apparently "Live Work Play Get Involved " doesn't apply to peasants who own townhouses and condos. But - have a single family home the rest of us can't afford ? Feel free to charge for visits."

While this is more the fault of the county than the RA, we wonder what's next. No Uber parking allowed in our beautiful 70s carports? No dog-walking services unless the leashes are all an approved shade of brown? Will they rip up the fancy new BikeShare stations? The mind boggles, the end.


  1. What other ordinances does the Reston Association go out of its way to help enforce? How about the one about grills being appropriate distances from multi-family dwellings? Size of private bee colonies? Unwelcome solicitors or dangerous tattoo parlors?

  2. Private bee colonies ?? I want in on that racket !

  3. It would be funny if it wasn't so blatantly obvious that RA are hurtling into obsolescence. Reston is being transformed into another urban Arlington/Tysons, the peasants are paying for it (parking, taxes, congestion, ...) and meanwhile RA is still debating how to burn money on the Tetra Lake house and how Airbnb is a Bad Thing. Fiddling, Rome, and burning all spring to mind.


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