Local leaders taking the lead in regulating STRs.

The pandemic has accelerated the rise of short-term rentals in vacation spots around the country. Most towns adopted zoning laws a long time ago and never contemplated this trend. Although it’s a heck of a lot easier to turn the other way, local governments are pushing forward with measures to balance the need for visitors and those of the community.  The impacts from the increase in rental activity are in line with what we believe is happening to Nantucket – more outside investors buying up homes, local residents and seasonal workers with fewer housing options, neighbors upset with the effects on their quality of life, and the community that’s left with the trash, traffic, etc. Last week, in Freeport, Maine – a tourist town best known for its outlet stores and LL Bean – town councilors approved a bylaw to regulate short-term rentals. There is now a cap on the number of STRs, a limit of 16 people who can gather at any STR, and unhosted properties can only be rented once each seven days. Town Manager, Peter Joseph, says “…think of it as a small hotel being run in a residential neighborhood.” Other Maine tourist destinations like Kennebunkport, Cape Elizabeth, Rockland, Bar Harbor, Portland, and South Portland have all adopted or are looking to adopt similar regulations. Less than 60 miles away, hidden in the White Mountains, North Conway voters recently rejected a proposal to allow short-term rentals in residential areas. However, voters did approve a zoning article to help increase the year-round housing supply by allowing historic homes to convert into multifamily units – no STRs allowed, only long-term housing. With ski resorts like Wildcat and Cranmore nearby, North Conway depends on tourism. And similarly to Nantucket, residents and second homeowners have always rented their properties to offset expenses. But things have changed there too. Short-term rentals are taking away long-term rentals, the housing crisis is growing, and residents are unhappy with the effects on their neighborhoods. As one resident, Peter Brandon, said in a recent article: “There has undoubtedly been a negative effect on the availability of affordable housing in the valley with the rise in popularity of short-term rentals. The crisis we have is in large part the result of toxic and archaic zoning laws […] that have prevented the development of long-term affordable housing, yet have conveniently looked the other way for short-term rentals and those that benefit from them.” Discussions around the problems with short-term rentals often seem to start within the community – with neighbors or housing advocates, for example. And despite the sensitive nature of the issue, local leaders everywhere are implementing reasonable regulations to protect the future of their communities. Why isn’t the Select Board or another Town Board taking the lead? Voting for Article 90 at Town Meeting on June 5th is a way for voters to regain our community.

Enjoy your week,

In addition, Nantucket Together has an ad campaign trying its best to discredit our research – we’d like to set the record straight:

Claim #1: ACK•Now data is misleading. 

Answer: False. This accusation is completely unfounded. One of our core values is to be data-driven. Any data we show has a reputable source. Nantucket Together believes we’re twisting the Census housing data. We addressed their questions directly, and it was apparent they were misinterpreting a slide in a PowerPoint that clearly labeled the 2010-2018 data. This accusation is a poor attempt to discredit the organization and distract from the reality that Nantucket is changing dramatically and that we’re losing year-round homes to seasonal residents and short-term rental investors at an alarming rate. 

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