To the editor: It is with dismay that I watch the arguments brought forth by ACK Now. First, their argument was that those of us who for generations, have rented their homes on a short term basis are somehow impacting the problem of affordable housing on island. This is patently untrue. By conflating short term rentals and affordable housing, they thought they could bamboozle enough islanders into voting with them. That did not happen. So, they’re back with another bite at the apple, Article 60.
This, to us, is contrarian and demeaning to the community. While there is no question we need affordable housing, telling folks that reducing the amount of time they can rent their homes is the wrong answer to a totally different problem. Nantucket’s economy is supported by short-term rentals and vacationers. Reducing the number of weeks reduces the amount of money that flows into the economy.
According to some, there are noise issues with rental guests yet, during a Short-Term Rental Work Group meeting, the police did not agree with that statement and indeed, some of the noise complaints they answered were due to homeowners' loud partying. Limiting the number of weeks a home can be rented does not address the behavior of people.
Besides making an illogical argument, the proposed Article 60 doesn’t answer the question of how short-term rentals can be regulated either. For example, how will all of these homes be monitored. Let’s say I am in residence for four months and rent my home for four weeks. Do I have to cancel someone’s much loved vacation if for some reason, I have to leave Nantucket for a short period? By doing so, I would lose the necessary income to pay my expenses, alienate a good family and cost anyone I hire during that period like cleaners, laundry etc a week’s pay. That makes no sense. The consequences of this article have not been thought through. We cannot legislate until all the facts are in and they are not. The short-term working group is being diligent in their task. There is a special town meeting specifically to deal with these facts and hopefully come to a conclusion. Meanwhile, please be guided by Andrew Vorce, not by a letter from the ACK Now folks:
“this is an opinion and an agenda,” Vorce said. “Random people do not have authority to interpret the zoning bylaw. The Building Inspector does and has and his opinion was supported by the ZBA on appeal in accordance with state law. There are three cases challenging these outcomes. Nantucket’s zoning bylaw basically says nothing about leasing at all. That’s a transaction - not a use. Single-family homes and other dwellings are allowed, some with restrictions for occupancy. Their use by occupants, whether they are owners, visitors, lessees etc. is not segregated in the bylaw. Leasing of dwellings is a subset of residential property rights, well established by custom and practice. The use of property remains as a residence. Under that flawed logic of the claim, rental of dwellings of any term wouldn’t be allowed since it isn’t stated in the bylaw.”
The lifestyle of generations are under attack by a very well funded group who see only their issues like not getting a restaurant reservation when they want one or a preferred tee time or must wait an extra five minutes in “traffic”. This is an affront to those of us who love this island and want to live in peace whether it’s for a few weeks or full time.
Please follow the sensible advice to wait until all the facts are in. Do not be frightened by the opposition’s scare tactics. Our world is not about to collapse due to short-term rentals. November isn’t that far away while making a decision without all the facts can have very long and unforeseen consequences. Please vote no
Jim and Miki Picinich