Say No To Article 59's Irreversible Exploitation Of Nantucket Neighborhoods

Emmy Kilvert •

To the editor: It appears that Save Nantucket Jobs needs some fact-checking given the misinformation that the group has posted online.

First, let’s address whose jobs they are trying to save. This is a good question given the hundreds of workers who alight from the ferries first thing in the morning and return home to America every night with their wages. Most likely, though, the jobs in question are those that belong to realtors, attorneys, and anyone who profits from Nantucket’s transaction economy. They are not our teachers, nurses, and public safety personnel who teach our children, care for the sick, and protect us. They are the truly essential employees who cannot find permanent roofs to put over their families’ heads.

Then, Save Nantucket Jobs asserts that Article 59 would preserve people’s right to rent their homes. That is absurd because homeowners have had, and even after the Land Court Decision, continue to have the right to rent their homes. It is just that the elite investor class that Mr. Maury’s real estate company serves does not want to be restrained in any way from renting their properties to comply with Nantucket’s current zoning bylaw.

The Vhay decision restated and affirmed the accessory use rules for renting on Nantucket. Perhaps due to the Town’s non-existent enforcement and contrived definitions conjured up by the planning establishment, real estate clients have been misled into thinking that they can do whatever they want in our neighborhoods. Some investors appear to have decided to “run for luck” assuming that they wouldn’t get caught. Well, one did, and now there is an uproar.

Perhaps the investors did not do their own due diligence or perhaps they simply relied on their realtor’s and attorney’s assurance that they could rent however they wished. In either case, that was clearly a mistake, a big one.

Save Nantucket Jobs also claims that STRs generate significant tax revenue for the town. However, that amount pales in comparison to the amount of money that the town has spent from our tax dollars to address the housing crisis and to keep up with the demands on our infrastructure. (Is there anyone here who hasn’t been detoured to unknown streets lately?) As for STR contributions to the economy, any conversion of commercial STRs to permanent housing would actually generate more revenue because year-round households spend three times more than seasonal residents and visitors. They dismiss this reality because their profits come from rental and sales commissions.

They also deny that there is a housing shortage associated with the conversion of long-term rentals to STRs and older homes converted into multi-dwelling STR estates that are only occupied three months a year. One has to wonder what alternative universe these people inhabit. Perhaps they don’t travel the roads of mid-island to see seven or eight worker cars stacked up outside two-bedroom, single-story bungalows. Perhaps they avert their eyes. Taxpayers are funding extraordinary projects to find affordable housing for local families and they claim that there is no housing shortage? It strains credulity that they want voters to believe that myth when you can see it in front of your own eyes…if you choose to look.

There may be only one truth among all the falsehoods you are being fed by people who support Article 59 and it is this: If Article 59 passes, those realtors will be cruising slowly along the roads of your residential neighborhoods with investors and contractors in the back seat planning to change your neighborhood forever. Please don’t let them get away with it. Please vote no on 59 to preserve our zoning protections and protect the island against irreversible exploitation.

Emmy Kilvert

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