"A residents group has made an aggressive move in the long-simmering debate over regulation and zoning of short-term rentals in the Cape’s largest town.
Barnstable Watch, a homeowners group opposed to investor-owned short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods, presented the Barnstable Town Council with draft regulations it wants considered for those properties. The move came immediately after a town subcommittee unveiled a preliminary working draft of its proposed regulations. Barnstable Watch contends the town’s effort is not nearly stringent enough, referring to it as “Commercial Lodging Everywhere” regulations."
"A homeowner group in Barnstable has drafted proposed regulations on short-term rentals as the town considers residential zoning changes. BarnstableWatch is concerned that residential zoning traditions will be overhauled to allow transient lodging in all residential neighborhoods. The group said town staff is drafting regulations for town council consideration that would adopt a 'Commercial Lodging Everywhere' model."
"On January 9, 2020, Town of Barnstable staff recommended changing longtime residential zoning traditions and making transient lodging legal in all residential neighborhoods. Town planning staff is drafting “Commercial Lodging Everywhere” regulations for Town Council consideration. Homeowner group Barnstable Watch submitted short-term rental regulations to the Town Council based on the study of other successful communities."
"A homeowner group in Barnstable has drafted zoning regulations that would regulate short-term vacation rentals in residential neighborhoods and ban investors from turning single-family homes into 'makeshift hotels.' The group Barnstable Watch modeled its proposal after similar regulations imposed in the Hamptons in Long Island, but the group said its regulations are less strict to reflect local rental traditions."
“'We learned in December that the National Association of Realtors is reaching out to Chicago and Boston to begin a PR campaign in the near future to help them figure out politically popular messaging using a professional pollster' said Hunt, who heads a group called BarnstableWatch."
"...every other place of revolving-door lodging – inns, bed and breakfasts, hotels, motels – is required by the town to have on-site management. Did a Realtor sell you a home in a nice single-family residential district with actual neighbors? Sorry. There will be a new group of unsupervised transients next door soon - and all the time."
CHEERS & JEERS. We are talking about the proliferation of high-turnover rentals in respectable neighborhoods driven by such companies as Airbnb. We are not talking about owner-occupied homes that occasionally rent out rooms on Airbnb. We are talking about nonresident investors buying single-family houses and flipping them into pay-per-night motels in residential neighborhoods. Cape towns must do a better job of enforcing restrictions of its residential-only zones.
"The Town of Barnstable has lost its way in terms of respecting what zoning is. You really just have to respect zoning, and you have to enforce it. An investor in a residential neighborhood is a blatant violation of occupancy. That is a change of use.”
"Brian Chesky was 27, living in San Francisco, struggling to pay rent. So he bought air mattresses, put up a website, and took three strangers in, each paying $80 per night. His website became Airbnb, now a global juggernaut with a pre-IPO value of $38 billion.
Airbnb’s official story of sharing a spare room with a traveler for a little extra income isn’t supported by the data. What really happened, what Chesky failed to imagine, was power users operating full time, revolving door, de facto motel chains."
AIRBNB, ADA ARE ON A COLLISION COURSE. The ADA and the Massachusetts Public Accommodations Law impose burdens. Investors who buy single-family dwellings and change their use to transient lodging may be required to undertake “readily achievable barrier removal.”
"While the owner of the neighboring house has great reviews for being prompt and attentive to his guests, he is unresponsive to my concerns. He told me in one year he raked in more than $100,000 from this property. That’s quite a return, but his neighbors paid the price."
"Those visitors were especially concerned about their property values. For many of them, their homes are their largest asset. Jessie Neufeld, who bought her home right before the local rules changed in 2012 and now has a 2-year-old child, put it most bluntly. 'We did not buy our house to be living next to a hotel,' she said. “Would you buy a home if you knew a hotel like this was operating next door, if you wanted to set your life up and raise a family?”
"The ruling Wednesday by a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is a setback for the home-sharing platforms in their effort to avoid regulations that blame the rapid proliferation of short-term rentals for a shortage of affordable housing and a disintegration of residential communities."
"Four Airbnb guests who authorities say were captured on security video breaking into a neighbor’s Nashville, Tennessee home have been charged.
Amy Allen, the alleged victim, was at home making dinner Friday night with her 3-year-old daughter when her security system alerted her that her porch door had been opened, she said. 'I looked at the cameras to see if the wind blew the door open,' Allen told ABC News.
Instead, she realized there were intruders who 'sounded drunk on the camera so I ran up the stairs.'"
"Of course, not everyone agrees Airbnb has society’s best interests at heart. The company is accused of breaking scores of local laws that prohibit individuals from turning private homes into hotels and has been criticized for fueling an affordable-housing crunch.
'Airbnb’s attitude is, they do what they want — and litigation is a strategic tool,' said Ben Edelman, one of the authors of the Harvard study. 'Silicon Valley believes you can still break the law and get away with it.'”
“'Commercial investors are starting to buy up entire buildings, or multiple units within a building or entire houses with no safe guards in place,' said Stacie Rumenap, president, Stop Child Predators. 'You’re putting your families at risk and the community fabric is no longer there.'
With a revolving door of strangers coming and going from Airbnb properties, tools like sex offender lists are becoming obsolete as there is no safeguard in place to stop a child predator from renting an Airbnb property next door."
"...on the subject of drugs, let’s talk about another set of lovely people to whom Airbnb’s #WeAccept motto apparently applies: namely, drug users, hookers, and porn filmmakers, and all operating out of one apartment.
I wish I was kidding. New York tenant Thomas Tartaglia recently got dragged into court by his landlord over the sorts of people who he had sublet his apartment to through Airbnb. Some of those people broke into neighbors’ apartments."
"In all, more than 100 Airbnb host accounts and 18 corporations were created to run an illegal hotel business that stretched north from TriBeCa to SoHo, Gramercy, the Upper East Side and Harlem, according to a lawsuit brought by the city.
At the center of the scheme was Max Beckman, 35, a former real estate broker, according to the lawsuit. Mr. Beckman agreed to be interviewed, making clear that he believed that he did nothing wrong.
'We’re not criminals,' he said at his lawyer’s office, while puffing from a Juul he kept in a black leather pouch fastened to a chain around his neck. He shrugged: 'I don’t own a yacht or a big penthouse.'”
"Airbnb says it is investing in new technology to clamp down on modern slavery in order to prevent traffickers from using its properties as Pop-Up Brothels.
Reports have circulated since 2014 of prostitutes using Airbnb rentals in New York, while pop-up brothels in short-term rental properties have been reported across the UK."
"The rise of short-term lets has affected cities across southern Europe, and has been blamed for driving up property prices and hollowing out economies in some of the world’s cultural capitals by promoting tourism above all else."
From Inside Airbnb's Guerrilla War Against Local Governments: "In the past five months alone, [Airbnb] has spent more than half a million dollars to overturn regulations in San Diego and has sued Boston, Miami, and Palm Beach County over local ordinances that require Airbnb to collect taxes or remove illegal listings.
Elsewhere, Airbnb has fought city officials over regulations aimed at preventing homes from being transformed into de facto hotels and requests from tax authorities for more specific data about hosts and visits. Airbnb is engaged in a city-by-city, block-by-block guerrilla war against local governments."
He founded Airbnb at 27 when he couldn't pay his rent. He let strangers crash on air mattresses for $80 each. Today, it's become something he can't or won't control. In a Vox Media interview last year, it was suggested to Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky that his platform might be "a great thing for the traveler but it might suck for the person living next door.” Brian reluctantly agreed: “It does sometimes suck.”
The economic costs Airbnb imposes on local jurisdictions likely outweigh the benefits. The potential benefit of increased tourism supporting local economies is much smaller than advertised, and there is little evidence it's true: only 2 to 4 percent of those using Airbnb say that they would not have taken the trip were Airbnb rentals unavailable. Airbnb might suppress the growth of travel accommodation costs, but these costs are not a first-order problem for American families. https://www.epi.org/publication/the-economic-costs-and-benefits-of-airbnb-no-reason-for-local-policymakers-to-let-airbnb-bypass-tax-or-regulatory-obligations/
Could short-term rental of homes become illegal almost everywhere? Yes. Local governments and state courts nationwide could start to find that a short-term rental is inconsistent with zoning definitions of “family” and “single housekeeping unit,” thereby making such rentals illegal in most places. The body of jurisprudence on land-use law is solid.
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