To the editor:
This year we will have the third Town Meeting where voters will consider short-term rental (STR) -related articles. I think many islanders, myself included, want to see progress on this important issue. After nine months, dozens of meetings and hundreds of thousands in consultant fees, the Short-Rental Work Group is far from a recommendation and now kicking the can to the end of 2023 for a proposal at the earliest.
The only way we can make progress on STRs is to cast aside the misinformation that’s circulating. I read Article 60, and it seems like a common sense first step to set a foundation for the island’s STR policy.
Under Article 60, 100 percent of existing STRs in residential zones can continue to operate as long as the home is used as a residence, including as a long term rental, more often than as a short-term rental. “Residential use” is use by the owner or long-term rentals (over 31 days). Article 60 will ensure that STRs are legal and protect homeowners without turning our island neighborhoods into clusters of full-time commercial STRs at the expense of our community.
This idea that an unheated summer cottage can’t comply is entirely inaccurate. If a cottage can only be lived in for 5 months out of the year, even if the owners don’t use the property, it can be rented as an STR for 2 1⁄2 months and two long-term rentals for the other 2 1/2 half months. There is no owner residency requirement. The only requirement is that the property is used for long-term rentals and/or by the owner more than as an STR.
Take a moment to read article 60 in the Town Meeting Warrant. I think what’s clear is that unrestricted for-profit commercial interests are replacing, and competing with, the island’s tradition where local and summer homeowners rent to help offset expenses. Instead, full-time STR businesses are starting to taking over some of our neighborhoods. I hope every voter will take the time to carefully read Article 60 and see that it’s a moderate common sense proposal. We can’t afford to wait.