Solving Nantucket's Housing Crisis Starts With Passing Article 60
Scott O'Connor •
To the editor:
I didn't understand the extent of the housing crisis until I was looking for year-round housing options for one of my long-time employees. Ultimately, it became clear that finding attainable housing for a critical employee is impossible.
I first moved to the Island and started my construction company in the 1990s. I was able to acquire a commercial property and put together a great team to grow my business. It sounds simple, but replicating this scenario today would be almost impossible. Local businesses are Nantucket's engine. How can they build a team if there's nowhere for employees to live?
We all know Nantucket's housing crisis is only getting worse. I was shocked to learn that over the last 10 years, Nantucket lost over one-third of its year-round rentals (even with a big jump in the year-round population and a construction boom).
Although there's no silver bullet to solving this problem, Article 60 could help make living and working on the island a little easier. Article 60 lays the foundation for STR policy that protects homeowners' ability to short-term rent, encourages more long-term rentals (which we desperately need), and protects our neighborhoods from commercialization. It also helps maintain our tourism economy.
Under Article 60, every homeowner can short-term rent as long as the home is used more often as a residence than an STR. There are many ways to make it work – the home can be used by the owner, family, friends, longer-term rentals (over 31 days), or a combination.
Article 60 stops strictly commercial STRs in our neighborhoods. If commercial entities want to continue to STR, they'll have to find ways to incorporate more residential use into their properties, which would benefit our community.
The island would be in better shape if we had more year-round rentals. It's going to take a lot to help Nantucket's housing problems and Article 60 is a step in the right direction.
Scott T. O'Connor