Vote "YES" On Articles 59 & 60

Galen Gardner •

To the editor: Fear and “scare tactics” are subjective. Nantucket is not going to travel in a time-machine to days of yore. Every house that is built here will hold people. The global population hovers in the vicinity of 8 billion people, up from a mere 3 billion the year I was born. Most people need to work to earn a living, and most would like to live in a nice place. What has happened on Nantucket is just that. It is a beautiful place and an economic juggernaut envied by all, especially during a recession.

There are long lines and wait times all across the U.S. for housing, to find tradesmen to fix things, medical care is hard to access. Some who are well-financed would have you believe that this is all the cause of STR, but in fact it has everything to do with global population/demographics, Nantucket’s beauty, and our economics.

I urge you to vote yes on Articles 59 & 60. I’ve chosen to write this in protest of a group of folks who chose to sue homeowners over renting their Nantucket home. In addition to lawsuits, they created the “Lease To Locals” program which they now want to hand over to the taxpayers. Does the Lease To Locals just buy a local vote? Does it really solve the housing issues we face? Or the affordability issues, which is why a person like me decided to follow in my parents footsteps and STR for a total of 59 years, to go to college, to pay a mortgage?

The STR owners I know are people born and raised here, teachers like me, many of whom are working for the town, paying mortgages and supporting families. Some are summer residents who have spent decades vacationing on island, donating to island non-profits, rebuilding our Boys and Girls club, and supporting our hospital. As a result of years of impolite discourse, we who live here are slaying each other on social media and in print, while the power players sit back and watch us annihilate each other, all the while some of us have taken on roles that have been planned by said power players. My pen does not have any millions behind it or beside it, my words, my only sword.

On the eve of ATM debate, we read that the taxpayers should shoulder lease to locals, and that tax burdens need to be redistributed onto the shoulders of STR. A million reasons why we should tank the vote and delay any result. Sitting in budget discussions as a teacher was very different prior to 2015. Things were being chopped all the time. Not so any more, as the town receives millions every year in taxes from STR. Isn’t it nice that we can give our town employees generous raises and benefits? So fellow public employees and voters, please consider? If we give up STR, where will the town find the money for further raises, and all the extras that a good education requires? Hint: the taxpayers…

We have the ability to amend and change laws in the United States. We will have the opportunity to create legislation that guides and governs STR, after we make it legal with a yes vote on 59/60. Lawsuits just create fear. What can you do right now if you have an unfortunate STR neighbor? Try using the new health department hotline 508-315-6372 to lodge your concerns or call the police. We have quiet hour laws, and they are no good if you don’t use them! I don’t need a hand-out or a judgment, but I do need to earn a living, pay my mortgage and support my child. I’m in no position for this awful spotlight, and if it weren’t critical to my ability to support myself and my family, I’d stay on the sidelines.

Nantucket’s growth deserves frank conversation around ALL land uses and principal drivers of growth here: billionaire compounds, residential units, commercial, and housing. Nantucket’s problems are not the result of one, (STR) single use of land-all uses carry costs and burdens. Please note that only one (STR) use is on the table here, why not all the others?

Every single one of us causes impact to the land which we all hold dear. And every single one of us reaps the rewards of Nantucket’s unique economy.

Galen Gardner

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