Vote To Make Short-Term Rentals Legal

Steven Cohen •

To the editor: An order by a state court judge effectively prohibits short-term rentals (STRs) on Nantucket, for now. The order provides that STRs could be legalized by Town Meeting, but we need to vote to make that happen.

On May 7th, Town Meeting will be able to affirm our tradition of vacationers renting houses instead of having a proliferation of hotels and resorts. Nantucket has adopted an STR registration system but has put off the zoning part. We can no longer put it off. If an update to the zoning code is not adopted, STRs will be deemed illegal under this court order. It is time to preserve the tradition of renting vacation houses, which is both the backbone of our economy and also the main way that most people get to enjoy our special island. If STRs are not affirmed, thousands of vacation rentals will be in peril, this Summer and beyond, with no realistic way to accommodate them.

To fix this, we need to approve Article 59, which confirms that STRs are an allowed residential use, as has been the Town’s position since zoning was adopted in 1972, and has been reiterated by the Town and ZBA numerous times. Adopting Article 59 would end the lawsuits, eliminate the confusion about legality, and supersede the court’s order with a local decision. If we do not act, nearly all vacation leases are at risk of being illegal.

We should also adopt Article 60, which prohibits new STRs by corporate owners. Nearly everyone agrees that we do not want large companies buying up houses for new STRs.

Articles 59 and 60 are just the first step. Other regulations can be added with a simple majority vote on the bylaw at future Town Meetings. We cannot wait for Article 59, but acting now does not preclude adding rules later.

Please vote to approve Articles 59 and 60.

Steven Cohen, article sponsor

Loading Ad
Loading Ad
Loading Ad

Current Opinion