Special Town Meeting, Tuesday, November 7th at 5pm, Nantucket High School.

Voters created the Short-Term Rental Workgroup (STRWG) at the 2022 Annual Town Meeting as an alternative to the two zoning articles, including Article 42, which would have allowed unrestricted, unlimited commercial STRs islandwide.

Unfortunately, the STRWG’s proposal, Articles 1 & 2, would do nothing to prevent the continued expansion of commercial STRs across Nantucket’s neighborhoods.

Article 2 would amend zoning to legalize full-time STRs anywhere. In other words, any home, anywhere, could turn into a commercial STR. If this passes, it cannot be undone.

We urge a NO vote on Article 2.

Article 1 is a set of complicated regulations that would do nothing to stop what Article 2 would do: allow unlimited commercial STRs islandwide. Article 1 would also allow all existing commercial and corporate STRs to continue to operate in our residential areas forever. According to the Health Director, critical parts of Article 1 are “downright unenforceable.”

We encourage a NO vote on Article 1.

Articles 1 & 2 are a handout to commercial STR interests and will undoubtedly make it harder for community members to live and work on Nantucket.

Please vote at the Special Town Meeting on Tuesday, November 7th at 5pm.

ACKNow continues to advocate for reasonable guardrails for Short-Term Rentals.

When we first started to research Nantucket’s vacation rentals, we didn’t have a sense of what we’d find. However, we were told by individuals in the community familiar with the changes in the Island’s summer rentals who raised concerns it was morphing into a lucrative big business and creating commercial investor-owned short-term rentals across residential neighborhoods. 

What we found – neighborhoods with are not only homes to year-round and seasonal residents, but more increasingly homes are being purchased to provide a business opportunity as a Short-Term Rental operation.

ACKNow supports year-round and seasonal residents renting their homes. On the other hand, we don’t support commercial and full-time STRs in residential neighborhoods on the Island. 

Housing has always been a challenge but now it’s non existent. Recent data shows over 30% vacancy in local police and fire departments, while the schools and hospital continue to have major challenges in attracting and retaining critical employees. Local employers are buying multi-million dollar homes to house employees to house workers to ensure their businesses can keep operating. This results in a vicious wheel where costs of goods and services on Nantucket keep rising higher and higher. 

One of the reasons Nantucket’s housing crisis has become the Island’s biggest challenge is because of the rise of commercial and full-time STRs in residential neighborhoods. The more homes that become commercial STRs, the fewer year-round residents and workers Nantucket will have. 

ACKNow and its supporters, which include year-round and seasonal residents, support solutions that prioritize the local economy and community. Our goal is a solution that allows all residents to rent their homes (now and in the future) while preventing homes in residential areas from being operated as STR businesses. It’s all about balancing the need for homes for the year-round community and Nantucket’s visitors.

We’re grateful to all our donors and supporters for their longing support.

Background: The impact of the Styller v. Lynnfield decision.

A 2021 Supreme Judicial Court decision in Massachusetts (Styller v. Lynnfield) determined Nantucket’s current zoning laws don’t clearly allow short-term rentals in residential areas.

In June 2021, in the Styller v. Lynnfield case, the Supreme Judicial Court – the highest appeals court in Massachusetts – ruled that a resident using his home as a short-term rental was “inconsistent with residential neighborhoods.” The SJC was swayed by the need to use zoning to preserve the residential character of Nantucket neighborhoods.

Without action, the tradition of generations of families making or supplementing their incomes by welcoming visitors by renting their homes may be threatened.

“It’s well-known that one of the downsides of short-term rentals (STRs) is that they can reduce the availability of housing for long-term residents, thus driving up both rents and house prices for locals.”

Harvard Business Review

Sustaining tourism and preserving a sense of community.

One goal of any policy developed should be to ensure the continued tradition of vacation rentals for the local tourism industry. What are other goals?

  • Preserving the sense of community by protecting neighborhoods. Most people agree that commercial STR operations do not belong in residential areas.
  • Help the mounting housing crisis. Essential services and local businesses face a staff shortage mainly because there is nowhere for workers to live. Although commercial STRs are not the only factor, they contribute to the problem by converting some homes into purely commercial STRs.

Any article that gets put in front of voters should protect residents while discouraging wealthy off-island corporate investors from turning Nantucket into an islandwide tourist zone, and changing life on the Island so they can make huge profits at the expense of the year-round community.

“Industry analysts predict that Airbnb will increase their inventory by 25% in 2022. […] Converting more inventory to short-term rentals will likely have a net-negative impact on housing availability and affordability.”

National Association of Realtors, 2021 REALTORS Conference & Expo.

An important conversation for our community.

There has been much debate and concern over STRs, but clearly, vacation rentals are an important part of our community and economy.

This is an opportunity to steer forward on a sustainable path with a reasonable and common-sense approach to protect homeowners, neighborhoods, and housing.

We hope everyone stays engaged on this important issue that will shape Nantucket’s future.

Short-term rental white paper