Meeting set for Monday 5 p.m.

Rockland to once again debate pros/cons of short-term rentals

By Stephen Betts | Oct 21, 2018
Photo by: Stephen Betts

Rockland — The Rockland City Council will once again debate whether short-term rentals, particularly non-owner-occupied ones, benefit or harm the community.

The City Council is scheduled to meet Monday, Oct. 22, beginning at 5 p.m., to discuss short-term rentals. The discussion will follow a closed-door session on a personnel matter and a vote on a new contract for the clerical workers.

The short-term rental discussion follows an Oct. 10 vote in which the council gave initial approval to repealing the short-term rental cap imposed in March.

The council voted 3-2 at its Oct. 10 meeting to give preliminary approval to Councilor Adam Ackor's proposal to repeal the cap on non-owner-occupied short-term rentals. Mayor Valli Geiger and Councilor Ed Glaser voted against the repeal.

The council voted 3-2 at its Feb. 12 meeting to set the cap on non-owner-occupied short-term rentals. Ackor and Councilor Lisa Westkaemper voted against the cap.

The vote resulted in a cap of 52.

Comments (4)
Posted by: Amy Files | Oct 24, 2018 16:10

Kendall -- I don't think Council opposes short-term rentals simply because they are short-term rentals -- but there is a housing crisis here in Rockland. One of the things that makes Rockland unique -- and why visitors want to visit -- is that it feels like a "real" working, year-round community. You can't have a year-round community or downtown Main St (open year-round) without year-round residents. And you can't have year-round residents if there are no year-round rental units available or affordable homes for families to purchase. When out-of-town investors come in to our town to purchase up our real estate to use as businesses -- that results in a loss of year-round rentals available and it pushes the cost of housing up (to match the profits they can get from short-term renting which is not in line with the costs that families would pay for living in them. And part of the reason we have "residential zones" is to ensure that we have areas of town where people live -- a business is not a home. Allowing a bunch of air bnbs/short-term rentals to take up a neighborhood means people are no longer living there but instead are being owned and operated as businesses. I moved to Rockland because I wanted to live in a smaller community where I know my neighbors. My neighbor across the street would text us when we left our attic light on by mistake... we can walk next door and borrow a cup of flour... when you lose neighbors to short-term rentals you lose neighbors and community. You also lose people who are invested in Rockland as their home -- out-of-town owners don't vote here, they don't walk around and experience the streets and infrastructure on a daily basis, they don't know what it's like to live here, what people care about, what people are effected by, etc. They don't necessarily care about our schools, children and parks. While a handful of short-term rentals may be okay -- letting an unlimited amount of them reshape our community and neighborhoods is not. And this cap/moratorium was for unoccupied rentals -- so it does not restrict you from renting out a room or unit in your own home.

Posted by: Kendall Merriam | Oct 22, 2018 14:13

Rockland IS a seasonal community, and increasingly so, as evidenced by the vehicular traffic, cruise ships, and tourists. The Maine Office of Tourism promotes Maine as Vacationland. So does Down East Magazine, among other publications. So, why is the city council, and only a few vocal people, oppose short-term rentals? We have five short-term rentals on our street with absolutely no problems. The local inns oppose short-term rentals because the innkeepers believe these new businesses will cut into Rockland's inns' businesses. That hardly seems likely. Short-term rentals provide reasonable rates for young people, they are family-friendly and are less formal than staying at one of the city's inns. The Rockland city motto in the city council chambers promotes business. Until our city has high-speed internet  that new businesses require to move here, and the city does something to cap rising property taxes, limiting property owners, who wish to provide short-term rentals, is an anti-business stance, and an anti-home owner property tax issue the city and our community needs to address. Most of the city's longterm rental landlords do not live in their buildings and many other landlords do not even live in Rockland. Short-term rentals are not a threat to affordable housing. Year round affordable rentals is not a problem unique to Rockland. It is a worldwide problem as the 1% increasingly dominate the marketplace. Tiny homes and infills seem to be a favorite solution promoted by some on the city council. That will work for those with means. But what about those who cannot afford this housing choice?

Posted by: James York | Oct 22, 2018 08:31

Keep the cap- otherwise the city is moving towards being a seasonal community; where neighborhoods are hollowed out as investors  drive up the price of housing to rent on a weekly basis in the summer.  There is a big difference in the character of a neighborhood that has year round rentals where families often stay for years - rather than seasonal weekly rentals that are empty half the year. All the while Rockland has an affordable housing crisis.

Posted by: Ian Emmott | Oct 11, 2018 06:53

Sad to hear Adam is not staying on the council, he will be missed.

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