The inability to keep new privately developed apartment buildings from becoming virtual hotels is one of the problems stalling a new high-density housing ordinance that is before the Bellevue City Council.

It’s not a new problem, and it’s solvable. The Legislature created it in the bloom of its romance with technology that allows people to become their own hoteliers. The romance has faded, but the problem remains.

The Legislature should fix it.

Idaho’s resort cities are being strangled by the Legislature’s prohibition on regulating short-term rentals.

The prohibition has reduced the supply of long-term workforce housing in every resort town in Idaho. It has handcuffed officials who want to work with developers to increase the supply. Yet, none of the cities has petitioned the Legislature to ease the prohibition enough to stimulate development.

The Legislature’s next session begins in January.

City leaders in the Sun Valley area should band together with others in the resort towns of McCall, Donnelly, Stanley, Driggs and Sandpoint. They should hire a good lawyer and a lobbyist. They should craft legislation, get it in front of Boise lawmakers and convince them to remove the garrote from the neck of workforce housing.

Until that happens, resort towns won’t be able to keep new workforce units from becoming short-term rentals. Units developed with federal tax credits by the cities themselves or nonprofits may be the only exceptions.

Unless cities like Bellevue again are allowed to zone areas for long-term and short-term housing, the problem will remain.

The cities must ask for help before the housing shortage makes an already staggering labor shortage lethal. The Legislature must act before labor-starved businesses die and the state sales taxes they generate die, too.

By then, it will be too late.

“Our View” represents the opinion of the newspaper editorial board, which is made up of members of its board of directors. Remarks may be directed to editorialboard@mtexpress.com.

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