To the editor: After a year of work, the Short-Term Rental Workgroup has come up with effective, well-considered regulations to govern the operation of short-term rentals (STRs). At the Special Town Meeting on November 7, our community will vote on these regulations, set forth in Articles 1 and 2.
These articles achieve a carefully crafted balance between preserving the rights of current homeowners and setting limits on STRs in the future. Among the rights: Existing STRs will be allowed to continue, and current homeowners will be allowed nine contracts in high season (July and August), a “protection” that can be passed on to their heirs.
The regulations will also set robust limits to STR growth. Corporations will be prohibited from operating new STRs, and new STRs after November 7 will have a maximum of four contracts in high season. This will discourage “investor-only” STRs and will help to preserve housing for year-round or seasonal residents. For newly built or purchased property, only one STR will be allowed per owner.
But these much-needed regulations cannot happen without you, the voters. Please come out and vote, and vote yes for Article 1 and 2.
Even if you don’t love every detail in these articles, it will be crucial to vote in favor of the larger package. A yes vote will give our town a workable way to regulate STRs and—just as important—it will reconfirm their legality. The town already accepts the legality of STRs, but some unfortunate neighbor vs. neighbor lawsuits are challenging it. A yes vote on 1 and 2 will put an end to the lawsuits and allow us to move past the rancor and divisiveness.
If the articles don’t pass, the future of Nantucket will rest in the hands of a judge. We don’t know what their decision will be, but it’s a risky scenario at best. Could all STRs be declared illegal? Could the families that have relied for decades on seasonal rental income be unable to keep their homes? Could the tourism industry on our island be impacted in ways that are harmful to most businesses, and could the Town lose millions of much-needed tax revenue?
There is a way to avoid this disaster and bring in a better future. Vote Yes on Articles 1 and 2.
8 Salti Way, Nantucket