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McCall homeowners converting properties to vacation rentals, pushing locals out

"Every day there's somebody posting that they've been kicked out of their residence because it’s being sold or turned into a vacation rental.”

MCCALL, Idaho — The housing crisis that is so critical in the Treasure Valley, stretches all the way up to the banks of Payette Lake and beyond.

Residents in Valley County and McCall have been dealing with skyrocketing prices on homes and rentals. According to Zillow, the average home value in McCall is just about $463,000, up 11.4% from the past year.

West Central Mountains Economic Development Council said 3-bedroom units are regularly being advertised for about $3,000 a month.

Now, owners are finding that they can make almost double that if they turn their homes into vacation rentals, forcing long-term locals to relocate.

Amanda Bonilla was born and raised in McCall and has lived in the city since it was a small logging town.

"McCall as a community and Valley County as an area has not really seen a slowdown in the past year, it just keeps growing and growing and growing,” Bonilla said.

Instead of the growth creating more supply, locals say that it's just changing what already exists.

"Every day there's somebody posting that they've been kicked out of their residence because it’s being sold or turned into a vacation rental,” Bonilla said.

According to the McCall Chamber of Commerce, the city has 28 hotels, motels, camps, or retreats, 28 property management companies that manage 325 short-term rentals, and an additional 118 business licenses for short-term rental vacation single homes. The city has a Lodging Local Option Tax, that puts a one percent tax on goods and services. The collections from the tax increased 33% in 2020.

"I understand wanting to create a vacation rental, I mean the income potential is crazy,” Bonilla said. “If you are renting out your residence you know long term, you're making $1,400 on rent versus $3,000 a month for a vacation rental."

The shortage of long-term housing is pushing those who live and work in McCall out.

"I've been in the family restaurant for years now, ever since I was little,” said Gabriel Martineau who works at his family restaurant, My Father’s Place, a popular joint in town. "It was really tough for us to be able to find employees for us to run two shifts."

The eatery started to close for two months in the winter starting in 2018 when the housing crisis hit, this year they had to close for four months.

"If you want to work in McCall and you are on a strict budget, you are going to have to have to expand to Donnelly, maybe even to Cascade, and travel into McCall just to work,” said Martineau. “My own friends are moving away and my own business, it’s hard it's extremely hard."

With growth, comes growing pains, something that both Bonilla and Martineau realize, but they're want to call on local leaders to create attainable housing.

"It's going to become a ghost town that's what it's going to come down to, it is going to be a ghost town you won't see any businesses open because they can't find employees,” said. Martineau.

“I understand that things change and it’s not going to be the community that I grew up in but at the same time I want to see responsible growth and I want to see the kind of growth that builds a community rather than just puts money in people’s pocket,” Bonilla said.

West Central Mountains Economic Development Council would like to hear from second homeowners who own short-term rentals. They would like to know if owners would be willing to convert their homes into long-term housing, with local incentive programs.

According to Michelle Groenevelt, the director of Community and Economic Development, the city isn't allowed to ban short-term rentals under Idaho law. Some new subdivisions ban short-term rentals with their bylaws.

McCall requires a business license and collects a local option tax off of short-term rentals.