North Elba hears concerns over proposed STR regulations | News, Sports, Jobs
LAKE PLACID — Several people who attended an informal public hearing on the City of North Elba’s draft STR bylaw on Tuesday expressed concern about how the rules don’t distinguish between hosted and non-hosted rentals.
A few of the more than 40 attendees at the meeting also questioned the accessibility of the city’s special STR meeting process. All of the city’s STR meetings were held at 9 a.m. on weekdays, and some Lake Placid residents said they knew several people who wanted to attend meetings but couldn’t because they were working.
The city is currently under an active moratorium on issuing new STR permits as city officials rework North Elba’s STR regulations, and the city released the first draft of proposed STR regulations earlier this month. City Supervisor Derek Doty said Tuesday that the project is not a finished product and the city still has work to do before getting closer to final recommendations. That’s part of the reason the city wants to extend its moratorium, which was supposed to end in mid-September, until mid-December.
The city will hold a public hearing for the extension of the moratorium at 5 p.m. on September 6. The city has also scheduled another special STR meeting for 9 a.m. on August 30. People can attend both the hearing and the board meeting at North Elba Town Hall or virtually at gotomeet.me/townofnorthelba/board-meeting.
People can also submit comments on the city’s draft STR bylaw, available at tinyurl.com/4zhub6rv, to City Clerk Laurie Dudley at [email protected]
Hosted vs Unhosted
Jillian Locke, a lifelong Lake Placid resident, told city council that she was “disconcerted” by the city’s exclusion of hosted and non-hosted honors. Locke recently purchased a home on Jersey Drive, zoned in the city’s residential area, and she wanted to apply for a hosted STR permit for her home to help supplement her mortgage payments. She, along with several others present at the meeting, referenced the recommendations of the Lake Placid-North Elba Land Use Code Committee for STR regulations issued earlier this summer, which were largely drawn along lines of differentiation between hosted and non-hosted rentals.
Under North Elba’s draft STR regulations, there would be no distinction between “hosted” and “not hosted” permits – the new permit system would instead focus on where permits would and would not be allowed, depending on the zoning districts. The city plans to split the types of STR permits into two categories: “accommodation” license and “capped” permit. The city also considers residential neighborhoods as areas where STRs are not “compatible” and where permits would no longer be issued.
Councilor Emily Kilburn Politi said the town chose to drop the “hosted” distinction for “simplicity” in the permit system and its application and to increase the availability of long-term rentals. Many residents who operate STRs in the city said they didn’t think that was reason enough.
After some discussion with those present at the meeting, city officials said they would consider returning to hosted and non-hosted distinctions in future draft regulations. Doty said the city council recognized there was a difference between hosted and non-hosted rentals.
“I’ll be the first to admit, we’re trying to think through every scenario, and we’re not done yet,” he said. “…Please don’t think something is happening to us where it’s all set in stone – it’s not. You will find this board very open to work in all of these situations.
Kilburn Politi said the town had considered the idea that someone in a residential area, who wanted to have a short-term rental, could try to be classed as a bed and breakfast – which she said was allowed in all districts except North and South Lake districts. If the town reverts to hosted and non-hosted categories, Kilburn Politi thought one way for the town to prove whether a rental is hosted or not might be to require someone to provide a STAR exemption or credit check, an idea she says came from Saranac Lake. STR talks.
City officials have also talked about changing the term “hosted” at “owner-occupied” which might better indicate that the host of an STR must live on the property and be present when renting it. In the city’s current STR policy, a rental is considered a “hosted” rental if the owner lives on the property at least 184 days a year.
Town residents Tim Reynolds and Shelley Reynolds, along with local resident Karen Armstrong, have asked council to consider changing STR meeting times to evenings, as they said most people who live and work in Lake Placid are no longer available. Doty said that in his 22 years as a city official, the city’s morning STR sessions over the past two months have had higher attendance than the city’s evening meetings.
“I would say you have more presence because you hear from people who have a huge financial investment in this,” Shelley said, “Not the people who live here, work here, volunteer here, play here, send their kids to school here, because those people work. People who have a financial investment in a short-term rental have more disposable income than I do.
Doty said at the end of the meeting that the city would host an evening meeting on STRs once the city gets closer to developing its final bylaw.
Shelley also said she felt the city was ignoring recommendations from the land use code committee to protect certain neighborhoods. While the city includes residential areas in its current draft as places where people could not apply for an STR permit in the future, the land use code committee has added some additional neighborhoods outside of the residential area. like places he believed STRs are not compatible. The Shelley neighborhood at Beech Hill Circle would be part of a capped district under the city’s draft.
If the city goes ahead with its proposed STR bylaw, there would be a total of 190 STR permits authorized in what the city calls “capped” districts – the rural countryside, North Lake and South Lake districts, lots without road frontage in the Old Military Road corridor and entrance corridor, and units in the Whiteface Inn development or townhouses and existing condos that are not part of a homeowners association.
Shelley said it looked like the city council was “completely sold” its community with the proposed regulations, which would allow the issuance of approximately 20 additional STR permits in capped districts. She felt that STRs inflate real estate market values and crowd out long-time members of the community, which she says is “inherited families” in Lake Placid.
“Inherited families are families that grew up here, raised their kids here, raised their grandkids here, and now they can’t pay their taxes because everything is artificially inflated,” she says.
Armstrong read several excerpts from the Economic Policy Institute’s study of the economic costs and benefits of Airbnb, which said that while Airbnb has removed travel costs, the evidence suggests that Airbnbs’ presence increases local housing costs.
Bob DiMartino, a part-time Lake Placid resident who rents out his house on Hillcrest Avenue as an STR, believed those claims were not supported by data. He thought that with or without DOS, taxes would go up because the cost of doing business anywhere would go up.
Armstrong also mentioned that Airbnb has “less reliable tax payments” to the cities where they are, citing the EPI study. City officials said that while Airbnbs contributes to local occupancy taxes, Airbnbs are not charged sales tax, unlike hotels and motels. This is something that could not be managed at the local level, according to city officials.
City officials said they are working with the village to restructure job descriptions within the building and planning department to give someone the responsibility to be a “STR Compliance Monitor.” Kilburn Politi said that person would check for STR compliance in the permit system, follow up on violations and check with the village police to see if there were calls for noise and parking issues so they can cross-check this information with the STR permit system. and ensure that all STR-related complaints are documented as violations.
Councilman Jason Leon said that position would be assessed annually; if there is a need to expand this position, the city and town would consider increasing the cost of STR permits to help pay for the new employee. Leon said compliance is one component of STR regulations that the board wants to be proactive about.
Shelley Reynolds noted that she saw “tremendous progress” with “nuisance rentals” and commended the Board for its increased focus on compliance.
Code Enforcement Officer Mike Orticelle said New York State Police have started responding to some noise complaints, and he’s encouraged people to use the helpline Town and Village STR Complaint Line at 518-739-7906.