Camden Herald letters to the editor April 15

Apr 15, 2021

Opposing regulations to short-term rentals

We are writing as the owners of a non-owner occupied short-term rental in Rockport. Our first visit to Rockport was in 2016 as short- term renters. We instantly fell in love with Rockport and became homeowners within six months of that first visit. We offer our home as a short-term rental to help defray property taxes and maintenance costs until we retire in two years and move to Rockport full time.

The majority of our guests are families with children visiting the area for a variety of reasons. Our guests choose to stay in the privacy, comfort and security of a home with amenities more suitable to their preferences, such as a fully stocked kitchen, washer/dryer and private outdoor space.

We use a professional property management service whose top priority is the safety, well-being and enjoyment of not just our guests, but our surrounding neighbors as well. Our guests enter a contractual agreement with the property manager to follow all house rules.

We have made substantial financial investments to our property in Rockport, which, we believe, have actually increased the value of adjacent properties.

Welcoming visitors who use short-term rentals in Rockport is what makes the short-term rental culture part of the unique fabric of the community. It does not “ruin the village vibe.” Some of our guests become homeowners in Rockport themselves, continuing to contribute to the community financially and culturally.

Why are these short-term rental regulations targeted at only certain areas of Rockport?

Why is there not a single documented complaint available to substantiate the elected official’s insistence that short-term rentals have become a nuisance and need regulations?

Please vote no on this ridiculous ballot question!

Sincerely,

Nancy and Billy Ottaviano

Rockport

Rockport Theft Alert — Knowledge and Power are missing!

On Feb. 7, 2021, I alerted the Town Office staff that the search engine on the Town website for the search “short term rentals” was nonfunctional. The Town Manager’s response was that, since the website is so very new, there are inevitable glitches, and that they will be corrected.

On March 30, 2021, I alerted Mr. Post that there were continuing problems with the website regarding short term rentals. Additionally, I wrote, once a visitor does find the information on short term rental restrictions in Rockport, it becomes apparent that the more recent updates on this topic do not appear. In fact, the most recent comments from property owners on this topic is dated in January 2021. I provided copies of all of the recent letters so that they could be made available to everyone.

With the recent comment from a Select Board member that the “public needs to be educated regarding this topic” — therefore the lengthy, highly editorialized “straw vote” to appear in the town election on June 8 — very thorough and easily accessible information on the website of our town seems essential.

I’ve never received a response. My point: knowledge is power, and the power of Rockport taxpayers has been diminished dangerously. Therein lies the theft.

Marsha Steinglass

Rockport

Questioning short-term rental ordinance

Aretha Franklin once sang “who’s zooming who?” A new example of that concept has recently emerged from our planning department and Select Board. It has been decided that the town needs to know how many houses in town are owned by people who don’t live there and are used for short term rentals. Whether or not you agree with this it would be easy enough to obtain this information by researching tax rolls, voting lists, and rental sites. Just using a little imagination and effort.

Instead, our planning director has come forth with a full-blown ordinance requiring the registration of any such properties. This was done without the input and cooperation of the Planning Board, the board that should have been involved in this issue. The board’s reaction to this can be seen on you tube at their recent workshop meeting. While the planning director and the Select Board continue to state that the sole purpose of this is to determine the numbers and not regulate, one has only to read the ordinance to see that that is false. This registration involves fees, and fines, it requires owners to get a written certification that the property complies with all zoning ordinances. This certificate must be posted in the property and on any website advertising the property. That certainly sounds more like regulations than just looking for numbers. The ordinance even has a yet to be filled out section on “inspections.” The direction this is heading can be seen at that Select Board meeting in Deb Dodge’s suggestion of at least four more regulations to be added a later date.

This ordinance is stated to “be an attempt to protect the public’s health and safety.” I guess I missed the news of all the local crime committed by short term renters. I would remind you that Camden already has an ordinance that all short-term rentals must be at least of seven days duration.

This has been a totally deceptive back door attempt to introduce a means of regulating short term rentals in town without involving the planning board. Without getting into the pros and cons of short-term rentals it would be more logical to research the numbers, decide if we have a problem and then have the community determine if regulation is necessary.

One has to wonder where the push for this regulation came from? Was it B & B owners, motel owners, or the vacation rental businesses in town? One interesting regulation of this ordinance is that a nonresident owner of one of these properties must have a local 24 hour contact available. Would that be a local rental agency?

Stephen Gold

Camden

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