Pass Article 59 For Nantucket's Economy And Property Rights

Linda Williams •

To the editor: I implore all Nantucket residents to stand together and vote YES on Article 59 (and Article 60) at the upcoming Town Meeting on May 7. If you do not, our economy that we have built for the last 170 years will be devastated.

As someone who has been ingrained in Nantucket’s community my entire life, I know more than anyone how dangerous the propaganda from ACK Now is. I grew up on Nantucket in the summers, before moving here in 1973 year-round. I have seen every facet of the community working for the town in both elected and appointed positions for over 40 years. I can see clearly what a negative impact this latest judicial decision will have on the community.

I have a foot in both camps as a year-round resident with my family having owned a summer home for over 50 years, after renting for 40. Recently it was sold when it became unsustainable. The family had to use it as a short-term rental property in order to keep it in the family for my relatives to enjoy and to pay the taxes, mortgage, insurance and upkeep.

I recognize the symbiotic relationship between tourism and our local businesses. Short-term rental visitors not only support our economy by frequenting boutiques and restaurants but also sustain a network of island-based contractors and service providers, bolstering our workforce and sustaining our community's wellbeing. It is the number one driver of the local economy affecting all our standard of living and ability to live here and for summer families to keep their homes.

However, the threat posed by those seeking to dismantle property ownership rights cannot be understated. We cannot allow the interests of a privileged few to jeopardize the livelihoods of countless families and the integrity of our community. Those who support ACK Now want this island to go back to the 1950s/60s, to be filled with only wealthy people who rented for three months on average or did not rent at all, creating a community in their own image. Their assertion that eliminating STRs would create any affordable units is once again a smoke screen. The only people that will buy here will be wealthy and will not rent to anyone, giving the ACK Now ilk what they want. Do not drink the Kool-Aid. They are taking something so vitally needed as affordable housing as a hook to entice people to their side.

The passage of Article 59 is not just about protecting short-term rentals. It is about safeguarding the very foundation of our island's economy and the financial security of our residents. It also protects property ownership rights. Eliminating the ability of corporations to buy up multiple properties is a good thing and that alone may help the more moderate-priced properties to remain available. That is included in the articles. With passage of Article 59 we can then spend time discussing more restrictions to address concerns through the Town Code.

We have been relying on tourism since the whaling industry died 170 years ago. We must unite in support of Article 59 to preserve the prosperity of Nantucket for generations to come. The Nantucket community has been under assault from ACK Now for far too long, putting stress on property owners with flagrantly unsubstantiated claims and outright deliberate misrepresentations, bordering on harassment. This has forced us to now deal with the problems they created by judge shopping, resulting in a devastating and poorly written judgment in favor of an ACK Now financially-supported random property owner.

I urge each and every one of you to vote YES on Article 59 (and Article 60) at ATM on Monday, May 7, starting at 5 p.m. Our community, both visitors, year-round and non-voting taxpayers are relying on all of us to band together and do the right thing and end this attack from those who only care about themselves. For a statement of the REAL facts please visit the Nantucket Together site.

Linda Williams

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