Stonington will decide no matter if and how to regulate small-phrase rentals as the range of holiday vacation rental homes has surged in current decades and 12 months-round housing has become additional scarce.
The town’s choose board agreed last month to kind a endeavor force to search at the consequences of shorter-phrase rentals on the community and study means to regulate them. City officials are performing to deliver collectively men and women with varying backgrounds and locations of knowledge to research the issue.
The shift helps make Stonington the most up-to-date Maine group, together with many alongside the coast, to weigh polices amid fast progress in family vacation rentals that has built it more difficult and additional highly-priced for others to locate 12 months-spherical housing. That scarcity has ripple effects, as workers have to live farther away from the island communities, which in change impacts the island’s 12 months-spherical economic vitality, school enrollment and tax foundation.
In neighboring Deer Isle, directors of the Island Nursing Residence claimed a absence of obtainable housing for personnel was 1 cause for its closure this slide.
The range of Airbnb listings in Stonington and neighboring Deer Isle grew from three to 298 involving 2012 and 2018, in accordance to a 2019 study commissioned by Island Workforce Housing, a nonprofit focused to creating very affordable housing on the island the cities share.
“It’s to the place now, with vacation rentals obtaining fully overtaken calendar year-round rentals, that there’s nowhere to are living,” stated Peter Roth, a member of Island Workforce Housing’s board of directors. “People just just cannot obtain a place to are living and if they can, it’s a seasonal rental.”
The location dropped 73 calendar year-round housing units between 2010 and 2017 while the quantity of seasonal units grew by 223. Seasonal properties make up 46 % of the housing stock, a higher share than all of Hancock County (35 p.c), Maine (17 per cent) and the U.S. (4 %).
The shortage of year-round housing hits Stonington’s young personnel particularly challenging, normally pushing them to transfer farther absent from the area. Practically a 3rd of the workers on Deer Isle and Stonington commute from other destinations, with some touring from as significantly as Bangor, according to the 2019 examine. That determine does not include things like self-employed personnel and contractors, who make up a large section of the island’s workforce.
This is the initial time Stonington has waded into the achievable regulation of brief-time period rentals, and Find Board member Evelyn Duncan reported she hoped the task force, at the time shaped, would assistance the town remedy questions about the growing selection of small-time period rentals.
“Is it on monitor? Is it as well a great deal? Is it hurting everything?” she said.
Throughout the h2o, Bar Harbor lately carried out new regulations on holiday rentals. The tourist hotspot set a cap on the variety of non-proprietor occupied rentals and won’t let rental licenses to transfer to new house owners except the city dips underneath the cap. A neighborhood real estate agent is now difficult the new rules in court docket, though mostly around procedural concerns.
The politics and economics all over small-time period rentals in coastal Maine can be challenging, Deer Isle Town Supervisor James Fisher mentioned.
Lots of households have owned rental houses for generations, and internet sites these types of as VRBO and Airbnb have enabled them to e book their homes a lot more effectively and acquire rental earnings, he reported. But the phenomenon also has most likely encouraged non-inhabitants and rental providers to scoop up properties in the space.
“The internet consequences are combined,” Fisher reported.
Small-expression rentals can generate up residence values and assets tax revenues for the cities where they’re found. The rentals can also generate employment, and community firms can reward from the tourists they convey to town. But if brief-time period rentals displace people who just can’t manage to buy or hire far more expensive houses, they’ll glance in other places to live, leading to declining faculty enrollments with much less 12 months-round residents and a smaller sized base of long-lasting citizens from which area businesses and businesses can attract from for workers and volunteers.
Fisher said Deer Isle’s choose board was not inclined to interfere with the sector, but prepared to monitor its impacts and address housing in updates to the town’s detailed prepare.
In Stonington, decide on board member John Steed cited the Island Nursing Home’s closure as one cause to form the endeavor force.
“Vacation rentals feel to be altering the dynamics of what is accessible,” he claimed.
Duncan was spurred by the great variety of current gross sales and soaring authentic estate selling prices, which could undermine the island’s perception of group and develop a “ghost city.”
“If someone buys a household that gets applied for a few to 4 months of the 12 months, it does not do our financial state a great deal of superior,” she stated.