My letter is in response to the article “Push for short-term rental rules unlikely to ease housing costs.” Gleaning information from this article and from viewing each meeting of the newly formed Short-term Rental Policy Task Force, I am presenting my perspective on the topic.
The task force and members of the public identified issues related to short-term rentals, such as excessive noise, septic issues, clean water, amount of water, dwelling safety issues, number of people using the property at one time, and frequency of use of safety departments, such as fire, police, emergency medical services and town employees.
While I agree that each of the above concerns are vital to our community in order to maintain a safe and healthy environment for both residents and short-term guests, I think we would be adding unnecessary work onto our current resources.
First, the above concerns apply to all dwellings in the community. We do not have to divide our housing properties into different categories. All our properties should meet the current codes for the town. I can assure you that the concerns related to short-term rentals are also related to year-round residences and businesses in Harpswell. They, too, create noise, pollute our soils and water, fail to provide smoke detectors, etc. The category of housing does not matter. Enforcement of the current codes and the appropriate use of public resources will do the job of providing safe environments.
Second, registering short-term rentals was discussed. For what purpose, I ask you? All homes, businesses and rentals should be held to the same standard. Otherwise, we could end up examining all dwellings 100 years old or older, or waterfront homes within the 1,000-foot zone, or homes on nonconforming lots. I could provide more examples, but I think I have made my point.
Cathy Given, Orr’s Island