Why You Should Vote "Yes" On Articles 1 & 2 At The Special Town Meeting On November 7

Peter Schaeffer, John Kitchener, Jim Sulzer, Karen Zagayko, Kathy Baird, David Iverson, and Peter Kahn •

To the editor: Your Short-Term Rental Working Group (STRWG), authorized at the 2022 Town Meeting, reached consensus on a responsible way to regulate short-term rentals (STRs) on Nantucket without adversely affecting property rights and the local tourist economy. The Select Board then amended the regulations and voted to send the resulting Articles 1 & 2 to the November 7 Special Town Meeting.

We urge a “YES” vote on both articles. Together they set out reasonable rules for STRs, end future corporate-owned STRs, discourage commercial-only STRs, protect the property rights of current residential homeowners, and take the ambiguity out of your right to rent short-term. A “NO” vote perpetuates the neighbor-against-neighbor lawsuits that threaten everyone by allowing a judge, not Nantucket residents, to set the rules for STRs on the island.

Here’s what Articles 1 & 2 will do:

  • Clearly permit short-term rentals on Nantucket, but ONLY when they are in compliance with reasonable regulation.
  • Reduce churn (multiple turnovers) in the high season defined as July and August to improve the quality of life on the island.
  • Protect (“grandfather”) current homeowners who have STR’d during high season, allowing them to continue their operations without adversely affecting their right to rent, to generate rental income, and to pass the same on to their heirs.

What are the new STR restrictions:

  • End all future corporate-owned STRs on Nantucket.
  • Discourage commercial (investment only) STRs by limiting high-season contracts.
  • Limit future STR ownership to just one (1) property per owner.
  • During high season, allow nine (9) rental agreements for homeowners who are “grandfathered” and four (4) for those who are not. If you have not rented in the past, but need to do so in the future, you are still entitled to 4 in the high season. There are no limitations on the number of rental contracts outside of high season.
  • Permit a homeowner to receive a waiver from any of these restrictions upon a showing that such a waiver is necessary to prevent an undue hardship.
  • End the zoning confusion and the neighbor-against-neighbor lawsuits by reaffirming the right of property owners to rent their homes subject to these new rules and regulations.

Why We Recommend These Policies:

  • Your STRWG was charged with protecting the time-honored tradition of home rentals and preserving economic opportunities, while – at the same time – regulating the growth of short-term rentals (STRs). We believe we have done that in a reasonable way that garnered the support of 8 out of 9 voting members.
  • It’s time to end corporate-owned STRs and the conversion of residential homes to STRs by corporate and commercial interests. Data indicates that less than 4% of STRs are currently owned by corporations, but a “YES” vote will prevent any further growth in corporate STR ownership.
  • The limitation of rentals in July & August will reduce neighborhood churn caused by numerous turnovers of occupancy without causing a deleterious impact on the many Nantucket individuals and businesses dependent on the seasonal economy, or the Town’s reliance on STR tax income.
  • The Nantucket Way, where we respect our neighbors and the environment in which we all live, has been upended by neighbor-against-neighbor lawsuits and bitter, nasty words in the media and in public meetings. It’s time to end that! We urge you to vote “YES” to end the lawsuits and restore common sense and respect.
  • If Article 1 passes, a beneficial balance will be established between allowing existing STRs to continue and moderating future growth.
  • If Article 2 passes, the legality of STRs on Nantucket (which is already recognized and accepted by the Town) will be further confirmed, and neighbor-against-neighbor lawsuits against STR owners will end.

Who are the Short-Term Working Group:

The nine-member Short-Term Rental Working Group (STRWG) was authorized by Town Meeting and its members appointed through an application process created by the Select Board. The vast majority of the STRWG – seven out of nine voting members – do NOT engage in short-term rentals. Despite a wide diversity of backgrounds and opinions, your STRWG worked hard over nine months to achieve consensus. This statement is endorsed by seven of the nine former members. (One former member who supported the articles now serves on the Select Board. Another former member represented and currently works for ACK Now.)

Peter Schaeffer (Finance Committee)
John Kitchener (At-Large Member)
Jim Sulzer (At-Large Member)
Karen Zagayko (At-Large Member)
Kathy Baird (Nantucket Together)
David Iverson (Planning Board)
Peter Kahn (Advisory Committee of Non-Voting Taxpayers)

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