Suburbanites are renting out their pools through an app and their neighbors are not happy:
The sounds of summer fun ripple up from ads for Swimply, an app that allows homeowners to rent out private pools to strangers looking to enjoy cool water under the hot sun. But that seasonal chorus has sharply divided suburban residents of Montgomery County as the local government considers formally regulating the short-term amenity rentals — potentially becoming the first in the nation to do so…
It is only mid-spring, but already dozens of pools in and around Maryland’s most populous county have been listed for rent on Swimply, which launched in 2020 as people sought alternatives to public pools that shut down because of the pandemic on the heels of the wild success of apps like Airbnb and Uber. Hosts set hourly rates anywhere between $25 to $100 an hour to access private backyard pools that bypass lines and crowds.
Unlike long-established home rental and ride sharing apps, newer apps that let people rent out their pools, home gyms and backyards have largely been unregulated across the United States so far. In fact, several jurisdictions, from the city of San Jose to towns across New Jersey to the state of Wisconsin, have tried over the past three years to ban the rentals or set up strict rules that require private pools to meet the same standards as a public pool…
A like-minded group of 36 county residents from Chevy Chase, Rockville, Montgomery Village, Kensington and Rosemary Hills, wrote a letter opposing the bill and asking the county instead to outlaw the amenity rentals altogether. The group argued that the rentals turn quiet residential neighborhoods into bustling business districts, without the infrastructure to support commercial activity. They raised dozens of concerns, largely over the added nuisance of strangers pouring into their neighborhoods because of the apps, congested roads, scarce parking, and noise and safety.
Should the property rights of homeowners reign supreme – they can do what they want with their property – or is this too much activity within residential neighborhoods where people expect quiet and do not want neighboring activities that they perceive will affect their property values?
If Montgomery County does not regulate this, someone will. I can imagine an alternative line of reasoning from a suburban government: this is a possible revenue stream.