To the editor: Article 60 = economic suicide. The University of Massachusetts analyzed the impact. Preliminary findings: 78 percent of current non-owner-occupied short-term rentals would be restricted. Only 4 of every 100 STRs would be unchanged as they qualify as owner-occupied properties. Total tourist “bedrooms” (including STRs, hotels, B&Bs) drop in excess of 85 percent, the town loses STR tax revenues in excess of $6 million per year, in excess of $35 million over 5 years, resulting in many town job losses and projects cancelled. The huge reduction in vacation rental bedrooms available during the year also causes massive revenue losses for town businesses, resulting in lost jobs and closures. In effect, an island “Great Depression.” Seem too extreme? Fine, cut it by 50 percent? Amend Article 60? Either way, you still end up with significant economic damage.
The billionaire-backed pro Article 60 faction have been busy circulating mega misleading spin emails and letters (did you get the “Key Facts…” email? How about the “Homeowners for Article 60” letter signed by the Executive Chair of ACK-Now?) and may attempt to discredit the University of Massachusetts, shouting “The Copley Group funded the analysis!” Don’t be distracted. The Donahue Institute at U Mass has spent many decades building an international reputation for impartial, excellent policy analysis on behalf of global, federal, state and local clients. They may accept funding to assess the impact of a policy issue, but the funder cannot control the input data, the analysis, or the resulting conclusions.
The danger with Article 60 is the wording. It steals your (and your children’s) property rights and is legally ambiguous, in contradiction to the soothing, deceptive letters from its supporters. In the words of one legal observer, “Recent laymen interpretation asserted in letters to the editor (and to your home) are irrelevant.” The definition & application of Article 60 terms will not be determined by letters or emails. They will be determined in court. If there is a “Yes” vote Nantucket will become a litigation hell. This Ghost of Christmas Future is already haunting & bleeding the Town of Nantucket and various families through multiple lawsuits funded by ultra wealthy anti STR activists who refuse to accept the final decisions of Nantucket’s building inspector and Zoning Board of Appeals.
Fortunately, a better process is underway. Data driven policies are being crafted by the town’s Short-Term Rental Work Group with a special town meeting set for the fall. In the meantime, let’s stop this economic and litigation hell from coming to pass. Vote no to Article 60 on May 6th then come to the fall meeting to vote on balanced, sensible solutions.