Article 60 Is A Misguided Bid To Help Affordable Housing

Chris Bevis •

To the editor:

While I have no doubt article 60 is well-intentioned and intended to address the very real issue of affordable housing on Nantucket, recent statements by its proponents grossly misstate what the article says and what effects it will have. Contrary to the assertion that it will only effect “strictly commercial” or “corporate” rentals, article 60 would eliminate the vast majority of family-owned second homes that are also used as seasonal rentals, wreak havoc on the island’s economy and create an enforcement nightmare for the town.

Article 60 states that “For non-Owner Occupied properties in residential districts, a Short-Term Rental shall be considered a permitted accessory use provided (1) the primary dwelling and secondary dwelling, if applicable, are each used for long-term residential use more than short-term rental use;”

Even on its face, this has nothing do with commercial vs. non-commercial use, but rather restricts how seasonal homeowners can use their homes if they ever want to rent them out for short terms. Does “long-term residential use” mean that seasonal homeowners must commit to staying in their homes for multiple periods of longer than 30 days in advance? Does seasonal use of our home even qualify as long-term residential use?”

As the owners of a seasonal home on Nantucket, my wife and I enjoy spending time on-island when we are able in the spring and the fall (the island at its best in my opinion) and rent it in the summer. Bookings for rentals are made a year or more in advance and, running a small business, I cannot guarantee a year in advance how long I will be able to spend in Nantucket each year and for how long at each stretch. If we visit in three-week stays through the spring and fall, would this be considered long-term use? How will the town verify our long-term use? Will someone visit and ask us for ID’s every day? What if they visit and I am off-island for the day or just out of the house enjoying all the island has to offer?

The actual effects of article 60 would be to limit second home ownership on Nantucket to those wealthy enough to own a home which they don’t need to rent, have more modest homes purchased and turned into “compounds” by the wealthy and further reduce the affordable housing stock on Nantucket while turning it into a gated community for the very wealthy.

We need real action on affordable housing, not divisive scapegoating funded by billionaires.

Chris Bevis

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