Island voters on Saturday rejected proposed regulations on short-term rentals.
Article 60 - which would have restricted short-term rentals in non-owner-occupied dwellings by requiring the home to be used longer as a residence than a short-term rental - was defeated with 378 voters in favor, and 558 voters opposed. As a zoning bylaw amendment, Article 60 required a two-thirds majority for approval.
The citizen petition had been put forward by island resident Emmy Kilvert, and had been supported by the political action group ACK Now.
"The explosion of short-term rentals is eroding the year-round housing that's left and threatening our neighborhoods and local community," Kilvert told the hundreds of voters in attendance.
But Kilvert's proposal faced significant opposition from the Nantucket Association of Real Estate Brokers and Nantucket Together, a group of largely seasonal residents who operate their homes as short-term rentals. The Copley Group, which runs a dozen short-term rental properties, had also funded a campaign as The Alliance to Protect Nantucket's Economy.
"Our seasonal owners provide accommodations for 95 percent of our visitors in the summer and pay 80 percent of our property taxes," said Penny Dey, the president of NAREB who said she was speaking as a citizen to urge voters to defeat the proposal. "Article 60 does not create affordable year-round housing, it does not make it less crowded here in the summer...Houses are built to be occupied, whether by the owner, his or her family, friends, or vacationing renters. A residential use is just that: a residential use, whether they're here for a month or days."
Saturday's debate marked the third straight Town Meeting in which island voters had discussed the merits of whether and how to reign in short-term rentals on Nantucket, but once again they found no common ground.
Numerous speakers - including island resident Jim Sulzer - urged voters to table any actions on short-term rentals to allow the town’s Short-Term Rental Working Group to complete its work. That group - appointed by Town Meeting in 2022 after short-term rental proposals were tabled - is targeting a special town meeting in November to bring forward proposals to potentially regulate short-term rentals.
But many residents offered support for Article 60, saying the situation was urgent as more year-round homes get converted to short-term rentals.
"Nantucket is a community, not a commodity," said Allyson Mitchell. "Every time a home turns into a strictly short-term rental business, that’s one less home for the labor and delivery nurse who’s delivering our Nantucket natives."
Photos below by Kit Noble: