To the Editor:
Ms. Kilvert’s letter in the February 17 Current outlines what, on the surface, appears a reasonable approach to protecting our neighborhoods. Sadly, it reveals a complete misunderstanding about families who offer their properties for vacation rentals. The “pathway to compliance with Article 60” leads right off a cliff for most families who operate STRs.
Article 60 would give narrow protections to homeowners who do the shuffle or offer part of their own multi-dwelling residence as an STR – but only if they follow strict limits on how many days spent here or there. And if they don’t comply? Will window-peeping neighbors be counting days and filing lawsuits to make life miserable for those homeowners?
Yes, Article 60 would put an end to distant, faceless corporations running STRs. This would be a good thing.
But Article 60 would also end STRs hosted by islanders who worked hard to buy a second property to generate rental income. Suddenly they’d be told, “Nope, can’t do as you like with your own property.”
Additionally, Article 60 would stop STRs hosted by part-time residents (estimated by the Town as 85% of all STRs). Many can’t afford to spend more than a few weeks a year in their island residence. They are kept away by work obligations and need the rental income to help pay their mortgages.
Ms. Kilvert, imagine the devastation to Nantucket’s tourist economy if 85% or more traditional vacation rental properties abruptly stopped hosting visitors. We may not enjoy the tourist crowds and commotion. But we can’t deny Nantucket’s economic dependence on tourist dollars to support businesses, town tax revenues and jobs.
Article 60 appears to have been composed with the intent of confusing and misleading voters. Let’s be honest that Article 60 would take away homeowners’ rights and severely damage the island’s economy. It would benefit only the attorneys who would get more ways – counting who sleeps where and for how many days – to pit neighbor vs. neighbor. We need to find a more productive way to move forward than this.