A plum for whom?

With a new year finally here, we look for ways to make a difference where it matters. For Nantucket, working to solve the housing crisis remains a top priority to ensure the year-round community’s survival. Different local and state programs attempt to make progress. Many people are familiar with the controversial Chapter 40B, whose goal is to build neighborhoods where low and moderate-income families can afford a home. The state law expedites 40B projects by reducing barriers such as local zoning. Most 40Bs are a mix of market-rate and affordable homes – with market units typically serving middle-income families. Nantucket is no stranger to 40Bs – a recent one is Beach Plum Village. But is it having the intended impact? Let’s take a closer look. 

Beach Plum is a mid-island neighborhood with 40 nicely designed and landscaped houses – 10 of which are restricted affordable homes owned and occupied by island families. The other 30 are market-rate houses – nearly all purchased by off-island residents and at least 14 short-term rentals. 

Wait. 40Bs have short-term rentals? 

Well, yes and no. The restricted affordable homeowners aren’t allowed to short-term rent their home, but market-rate owners are. See the map below for a visual. The reality is that Beach Plum Village created more short-term rentals than year-round homes. Can this be stopped? 

We spoke with a retired official from Mass Housing who suggested, “the short-term rental restrictions such as ACK•Now proposes may give the Town what it needs going forward to set limits on their use in 40B projects.”

Figure 1. Beach Plum Village
— (Pink) Short-Term Rental

— (Blue) Deed Restricted Affordable Home

 

The goal of 40Bs is to create homes — not summer houses, not investor short-term rentals. Without an STR bylaw, what’s to prevent another Beach Plum? What’s to stop more year-round housing from going down the drain? Putting limits on investor-owned short-term rentals is a better solution than prioritizing growing the short-term rental tax at the community’s expense.

Enjoy the first week of 2021,

Julia Lindner
Executive Director

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