2018-06-21 / Opinion


Turning the Tide

In the small microcosm of our City by the Sea, we are faced with similar challenges as other cities nationwide when it comes to the subject of vacation rentals. The Boston Globe article from June 13, 2018, is a prime example: "City Council Passes Tough Rules that Limit Airbnb Rentals."

"After months of debate,” the article says, “the Boston City Council on Wednesday passed rules that are designed to sharply rein in Boston’s fast-growing short-term rental business and help ease the tight housing market. The rules, which passed on an 11-to-2 vote, are among the most stringent efforts in the nation to regulate the burgeoning industry. [They] would bar investors and tenants from renting their homes by the night through popular websites such as Airbnb, while allowing homeowners and owner-occupants of two- and three-family houses to continue to do so."

The article went on to outline how the city would enforce the ruling to begin Jan. 1, 2019 and the anticipated positive effects it would have on the rental and sales residential market.

Locally, we have been attempting to navigate the same process to protect the integrity of our residential (not commercial) neighborhoods. Over the past several years, there has been a vague call for a short-term rental review or a council workshop. Action is finally on the horizon.

This week we have addressed the topic again, with an article on page 8. Reporter Andy Long speaks with residents who live near short-term rental properties and share their opinions, and Rep. Lauren Carson has written a letter regarding the tax issues on third-party rental platforms. But, starting on Thursday, June 28 residents can come together to a series of open forums called the Short Term Investigatory Group, chaired by Planning Board member Jeff Brooks. There will be five meetings at the Newport Public Library. See Andy’s article on page 8 for days and times.

This group has a lot to consider.

Many people are quick to ask if we need all these new hotels that are popping up, but maybe the several projects in the works are much needed, as they can offer short-term options that are zoned properly, adhere to the required codes, and may bring peace to many worried minds about the future of our neighborhoods.

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