To the editor: I want to make a few factual remarks about the peer review study, which ACKNow released last week.
First, we asked FXM Associates to do a study because the short-term rental (STR) lobby released multiple studies over the last few years claiming that restricting STRs in any way would wreak havoc with Nantucket’s economy. Instinctively, we thought this was a scare tactic. We also noticed that the studies were flawed in many ways.
Second, we had no idea how the study would turn out, and we were somewhat surprised by the results that showed that year-round residents spend three times more than seasonal residents and visitors on the island and that visitors staying in STRs are a sliver of the overall spending dollars.
Third, unlike Donahue studies paid for by the anonymous group “The Alliance to Protect Nantucket’s Economy,” we are transparent about the fact that we commissioned the study.
Fourth, we were pleased with the results of the study because it confirmed our suspicions and its release might serve to counter the STR lobby’s scare tactics and major assumption flaws.
Beyond spending dollars, of course some islanders benefit from the existence of STRs, including commercial STRs, and the study did not specifically address that issue. It focused on exposing the truth about the dependence of the local economy on STR visitors. The local economy is fueled by year-round and seasonal residents and, to a much smaller extent, by visitors staying in hotels or STRs or coming over for the day.
Most of the services needed to support commercial STRs are the same for seasonal homes - landscaping, caretaking, etc. Year-round homes might only need a few services, but we obviously need them to have a community and functioning economy. What is the cost of losing a year-round home because it gets converted into an STR business? It’s high, and it’s us residents, employers, and taxpayers that bear it.
Finally, ACK Now supports residents renting their homes on an accessory-use basis... That means the house is primarily someone’s home, year-round or seasonal, and the STR is a secondary or subordinate use. There is a movement on Nantucket to really explore ways this accessory use concept could work and to put this important issue behind us. This is the same movement that will be voting NO on Articles 1 & 2 at Tuesday’s Town Meeting because these articles would allow unlimited commercial STRs island-wide and make it harder (and more expensive) for year-round residents to live and work on Nantucket.
ACK Now Chair