Letter to the Editor

 Dear vacation home owners of Flagstaff: Join our community or pay more taxes.

Flagstaff has limited real estate. Our community is surrounded by public lands and can only expand so much. Our limited number of homes are being bought up by snowbirds, vacation owners, Airbnb-ers, and college kids' parents. These owners don’t live here year-round and by taking family homes off our market are inflating home and rental prices around Flagstaff. We didn’t raise the minimum wage in Flagstaff because people can’t afford hamburgers; we raised it because the majority of actual Flagstaff residents cannot afford rent.

One solution to this crisis is to tax these homeowners 1 percent the value of their home if they don’t live in it more than half the year. If they don’t want to pay this tax, let them live here year-round. They can then support local businesses, pay municipal taxes, and be a voice in our neighborhoods. Exemptions would exist for owners who are renovating, have medical expenses, or who keep their homes rented when they don’t live there for months.

These tax funds could subsidize affordable home development or other local initiatives to combat our housing crisis. No one who actually lives here would pay it. We should offer this choice for folks to take our homes out of our community: If you don’t live here year-round, move here and join our community or pay more taxes to offset the damage empty homes have on Flagstaff.

MICHAEL MEREDITH

Flagstaff

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