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Short-Term Rentals - What's the rush?

posted Jan 31, 2015, 3:11 AM by Doug Roberts
I've been asked several times by Greenporters to articulate a position on short-term rentals. I've discussed many ideas with people, and it seems that I've not yet come up with anything that makes everybody happy. So I've been trying to think about why it's been so difficult to develop a position on this. I've listened to feedback from folks on all sides of the issue. I'd describe peoples' ideas on the issue to range between two extremes:  Those who don't want to see any short-term rentals because they want to protect the quality of life in their neighborhoods, and those who want the village to stay out of the way of landlords and their ability to earn revenue from renting apartments to visitors.  

These are both tenable and reasonable positions. That's what makes this hard.  

I'm running for Trustee because I think I can make a difference, help make Greenport better, help kids my toddler daughter's age on up have a fighting chance of affording to live here and build a career here.  My instinct, in personal and professional pursuits, is to dive in and start working on the solution to the problem, start writing a draft of potential code language, shop it around to voters and key stakeholders, etc.- and that's the kind of Trustee you're going to elect in March- a do-er, a thinker, a go-getter.  However, in this case, I wonder if we can actually accomplish more by doing nothing?  

For our two polar opposite positions on the short-term rental issue above, we already have solutions in place.  Our state laws and village code are fairly clear on public nuisance type issues. If a crew of young folks from the city are partying too loud in the AirBNB 2 doors down, you call the cops and the issue will be dealt with.  If these issues become consistent, the code is pretty clear on the accountability of landlords for these issues (enforcement is key here- and will be a focus of my first 3 months in office).  And for our landlords, we have clear codes in section 150-6 through 150-8 about what is and is not permitted vis a vis hotels, b&bs, and apartments in the R-1, R-2, and commercial zones in the village.  For those curious to read the code in detail, visit http://www.ecode360.com/10977467.  

We know that the town, county, and state legislature are set to take up this issue and, presumably, hand down legislation governing the issue with which we'll be compelled to comply, regardless of what our local code says.  What's the harm in waiting to see what happens with these other governing bodies? Are we going to rush to develop language before Memorial Day so we're ready for the season? This doesn't seem like a life or death issue, and we've already got recourse to protect ourselves from the public nuisance issues that seem to be providing the most pain on a day-to-day basis for people in town.  I know I'll be watching the AirBNB houses on my block like a hawk and will deal with any issues that arise.  I suggest that we all do the same for now and let's wait and see if we need to engage in the development of language for our Code Book based on what happens out of the state and county.  In the meantime, let people earn a return on their investment in real estate here via short-term rentals. Let our merchants benefit from the visitors who come here to eat, drink, and shop- the vast majority of whom I've found to be pleasant and somewhat in awe of the amazing place we're lucky to call home.  

What do you think?  Come to speak at Village Board meetings during this public comment period. Share your ideas here, on Facebook or Twitter, or email me at doug@wearegreenport.org, and I'll bring them with me to the meetings if you can't be there.  Thanks for reading and for staying in touch with the campaign!

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