To The Daily Sun,
I just reviewed the mayor’s proposal for short term rentals, and offer the following comments: (The proposal can be found at this web address: https://www.laconianh.gov/DocumentCenter/View/3600/Revised-Mayors-Proposal-re-short-term-rentals-submitted-for-031519-newsletter)
The duration of short-term rental as proposed seems longer than necessary. When I hear the term “short-term rental” I think more of 1-30 day vacation rentals, which I suspect is more likely what we have here in the districts listed in Item 4. The longer vacation rentals, for the summer or the ski season, seem more likely in the SFR and CR zones, which I understand would not be affected by this proposal.
One approach is to limit short-term rentals to owner-occupied property in residential zones. Most of the Airbnb properties we have stayed at were owner-occupied, which meant at most 2-4 guests at a time and strict policies regarding guest behavior/quiet hours, etc. This would automatically exclude the rental of an entire house in a residential neighborhood, which have been the most problematic properties mentioned in the newspaper. An option would be to allow exceptions to this condition if the owner resides here, or has a local property agent who will take care of trash disposal and other property care issues.
Longer term (over 30 days) rentals in residential areas may include individuals or families moving here while looking for a home to purchase, as well as traveling personnel like nurses working at the hospital. These uses are more similar to year-long rentals than they are to vacation rentals. I think they should be treated more like a typical long-term home rental.
Requiring neighbor approval opens the door to further restrictive measures on property use, and is subject to abuse if a neighbor has a grudge against the applicant. Revocation of the permit in the event of documented disturbance of the peace should be adequate to address neighbor concerns.
We want young people to move into Laconia, and become residents. For some of them, the ability to offer short-term rentals can enable them to afford to live here. Shared housing is becoming more and more common, especially among younger folks. This proposal does not present Laconia as a dynamic, forward-thinking community.
I hope we can find a way to develop a regulation that meets the needs of both those who wish to offer short-term rentals and their neighbors. Affordable short-term rentals can be a great way to attract visitors to our city.