To the editor: In May 2022, in response to competing articles seeking to regulate short-term rentals (STRs) on Nantucket, Town Meeting voted to form a work group to study the issue. Over the following months, members from the Select Board, Planning Board and Finance Committee established the Short-Term Rental Working Group (STRWG) and hired a professional facilitator. The STRWG includes at-large individuals along with representatives of organizations and Town bodies, encompassing a wide range of opinions and interests. The STRWG was charged with developing sensible guidelines for short-term rentals that consider multiple interests and have broad public support. The STRWG strongly implores the residents of Nantucket to give them time to complete their work.
Since October 2022, STRWG members have invested 40+ hours each, convened a high-attendance public input session, and accomplished the following*:
● Developed and refined a set of policy goals that STR regulations would seek to achieve
● Developed and refined a set of data questions to inform STR policy, and began work with an independent data consultant to compile and analyze Nantucket STR data
● Taken public comment at 11 STRWG meetings and led an initial public input session, attended by 183 people, to foster meaningful community conversation about STRs
● Brainstormed and explored in depth a range of potential STR policies, including analysis of what each might achieve and what the intended and unintended consequences would be
● Examined STR regulations from comparable communities, and spoken to representatives of those communities to identify key lessons
● Investigated detailed legal, planning, and zoning questions with Town Counsel and consultants
The STRWG is actively implementing the will of the voters of the 2022 Town Meeting. The group has engaged in civil, thoughtful, and detailed deliberation. While members of the group are still working through the purposes for STR regulations and the best mechanisms for achieving them, they have already identified many areas of common ground, and discussed several very promising policy approaches. The goal is meant to balance the long standing tradition and economic need for Nantucket home-owners to short term rent while addressing the risks of over-commercialization of residential neighborhoods.
It was initially hoped that this endeavor would be completed in time to propose an article for the 2023 Annual Town Meeting, but since the group was not operational until October, it very quickly became clear that the group would need more time in order to collect credible data to support effective decision-making. For that reason, the work group requested and received approval for the creation of a Special Town Meeting in November 2023.
In the next several months, the working group will continue to meet regularly to complete their task. The group is planning another public input meeting for Thursday June 1 for the community to voice their comments and concerns on the policies being considered. Finally, the group will draw on the expertise of professional planners and legal experts to ensure that the articles it recommends are well drafted, effective, and legally sound.
The STRWG expects to have a package of data-informed, deeply deliberative, and well thought-out guidelines to bring to voters at the November 7th Special Town Meeting (STM), which was specially convened to enact short-term rental regulation. All elected, appointed, and experts employed by the Town have recommended no action on any STR bylaws until the Work Group has finished its work. On May 6th please vote no to all STR related articles. Give us time to complete our work ready for the November 7th Special Town Meeting
* All STRWG meetings have been open to the public, and all meeting materials can be found at the Town’s website: https://www.nantucket-ma.gov/2...