Here is what supporters are saying about Article 60:
Letters to the editor
1/26/23: Carl Jelleme – Focus on the facts, not scare tactics on STR regs
1/26/23: Stephen Ketchum, Deborah & Robert Landreth, Jeff McDermott, Matthew Westfall, Mark Wilmot – Copley Group’s 32 Monomoy: an example of what can happen to a neighborhood
2/2/23: Jay Wilson — How property is used — the real STR question
2/2/23: Kathleen Wixted Francis — A victim of our own popularity?
2/9/23: Sanford Kendall — Article 60: a common-sense approach to STRs
2/16/23: Emily Kilvert — Setting the record straight on what Article 60 does
2/16/23: Anne Dewez — Protecting our neighborhoods
2/23/23: Patsy Wright — Article 60 protects island homeowners
3/2/23: Abby Camp — Commercial STRs hurting islanders who rent their homes
3/9/23: Scott O’Connor — STRs adding to the housing crisis
3/19/23: Eric Silfen, MD: Enough is Enough
3/23/23: Alan Rubinstein: Residential areas destroyed by commercial STRs
3/30/23: Patricia Stolte: Yes on Article 60 will protect a community tradition
4/5/23: Peter Hoey: Article 60 is not perfect, but it is good and it is now
4/6/23: Georgia Raysman: Support Regs of Article 60
4/13/23: Ken Gentner: STRs taking away housing stock
4/17/23: Hank Holliday: Unrestricted Commercial Short-Term Rentals Are A Disaster. Yes On Article 60
4/19/23: Nina Pickering-Cook: Town Counsel is Flat Wrong on Article 60
4/20/23: Liz Winship: Vote Yes on Article 60
4/20/23: Allyson Mitchell: Don’t Be Afraid of Article 60
4/24/23: Charity Benz: Time to Stop the Bleeding
5/4/23: Dr. Tim Lepore: Dr. Lepore on Article 60
[Scroll to read all]
Focus on the facts, not scare tactics on STR regs
To the Editor: Bob Vidoni’s letter about short-term rentals couldn’t be further from the truth. Without any facts to back it up, his letter opposes a citizens’ article for a zoning change, sponsored by Emily Kilvert, with false claims and doomsday scenarios. Either Mr. Vidoni doesn’t understand Nantucket’s zoning, or he hasn’t read the article.
Just last fall, Mr. Vidoni wrote a letter to the Inky about halting corporate commercial takeover of island housing. I agree. That’s exactly what this article would do. Under current zoning, STRs are not allowed. They are not listed as a permitted use, and our bylaw is clear that if it’s not listed, it’s not allowed. Meanwhile, we all know STRs are all over the island and growing in numbers in our neighborhoods.
Contrary to Mr. Vidoni’s letter, the article does not limit STRs to “owner-occupied” properties only. The fact is it ensures that STRs are allowed for any property, no matter who owns it, as long as the property is used more for residential use than for short-term rental use.
“Residential” includes any use by the owner or long-term rentals (longer than 31 days). The idea that the article sponsored by Ms. Kilvert would ban STRs is absurd. The reality is the article protects the vast majority of homeowners who STR, instead of leaving them in jeopardy like they are under current zoning.
However, the article would not allow purely commercial interests to operate STRs in residential zoning districts. I think this is something that most Nantucketers can agree on.
Let’s focus on the facts instead of scare tactics. One thing is sure. If we don’t take action, we leave homeowners unprotected and commercial interests unrestricted. — CARL JELLEME President, ACK•Now
Copley Group’s 32 Monomoy: an example of what can happen to a neighborhood
To the Editor: We are neighbors of 32 Monomoy Road, which is owned by The Copley Group of Boston. That property now operates solely as a commercial short-term rental. Several of us testified at a hearing of the Zoning Board of Appeals on Jan. 12 arguing that this violates the zoning bylaw and has a negative effect on our neighborhood.
Matthew Westfall of 30 Monomoy Road testified about troubling experiences with 32 Monomoy and its owner since The Copley Group purchased the property in 2016. He testified that landscapers trespassed and topped the crowns of three mature trees on his property. Instead of apologizing, Copley Group engaged their Boston-based lawyers, dismissed the damage as “de minimus,” and required the Westfalls to bring expensive legal action. Given the clear unwillingness to respect boundaries, Mr. Westfall was forced to install thousands of dollars in new fencing.
The ongoing damage to Mr. Westfall and the neighborhood from this absent owner comes in the form of continued disregard for the impact of the renters on the neighbors. The ZBA heard descriptions of parties over the Figawi weekend that degenerated when a Nobadeer beach party joined the group. There were examples of more than 200 people, many underage, overloading decks, heavily drinking, loud music, spilling out into the street. Neighbors called in complaints to the Nantucket Police and wrote letters to The Copley Group. The Copley Group did nothing.
Mr. Westfall testified that since The Copley Group purchased this property, bottles and other party refuse, even furniture, have been littered on his property, launched from 32 Monomoy. Unattended children have entered the Westfall gate to use their pool: a terrifying situation. Steve Ketchum of 34 Monomoy Road testified that he has had to go to 32 Monomoy almost every other week asking renters to turn down music – and has been forced to call the police repeatedly. He has had to ask renters to move cars off his property and has had to clear trash on his property from 32 Monomoy.
In response, The Copley Group attorney John Huffman testified that 32 Monomoy Road is private residential use because renters sleep there and eat there. He stated that vacation rentals are a long-standing tradition on Nantucket and without them, tourism would suffer. Most troubling, the ZBA commissioners asked no questions and did not engage in any discussion before summarily voting to deny our appeal. They failed to wrestle with the facts of this case. There was not a flicker of empathy for their Nantucket neighbors.
We are not against people renting their houses. Several of us rent, often to the same families every year. Some leave bikes or other equipment with us. This is fundamentally different from The Copley Group’s management of 32 Monomoy. We live in these homes and care about relationships with our neighbors.
The Copley Group’s operation of 32 Monomoy Road violates the zoning bylaw. To claim that it is a residential use because renters eat and sleep there violates common sense. No one lives there. It is not a “residence” as defined by the dictionary. It is a business, part of an investment portfolio, operated by the owners for a profit. It is like a small hotel — except worse because no one is watching or caretaking.
It violates the intent of zoning that forbids a commercial use in a residential neighborhood. All that is missing is a shingle out front that says, “Vacancy.” Commercial uses are generally prohibited from residential neighborhoods for precisely the reason we are seeing at 32 Monomoy: the noise, traffic, lack of concern for the neighborhood given its transient nature.
It violates the sense of responsibility that people have to a neighborhood.
The Copley Group has shown what kind of neighbor it is. It claims no harm, hides behind half-truths, and accepts no responsibility. It violates the sense of decency that one expects of a neighbor. The Copley Group has never responded to our letters or expressed any concern or apology.
It violates our expectation of a government’s responsibility to protect its citizens by enforcing the law. We appreciate the importance of tourism on Nantucket. But Nantucket also needs to protect its homeowners and residents, not just local Realtors and off-island real estate developers. These full-time STR portfolios are a relatively new occurrence and cannot be justified as a “historic” or “traditional” use.
We are fighting a big real estate company with deep pockets. But the zoning bylaw and case law are clear, much as The Copley Group wants to ignore them. We’re going to win this battle.
STEPHEN KETCHUM DEBORAH LANDRETH ROBERT LANDRETH JEFF MCDERMOTT MATTHEW WESTFALL MARK WILMOT
A victim of our own popularity?
To the Editor: As a lover of Nantucket (visitor since 1965, seasonal homeowner since 2005) I fear for the Island’s future. So many houses purchased for rental, not for living, so many inns bought up by corporations, so many restaurants closing.
Don’t the people taking over the island realize they are destroying the very reason the Island is so desirable? Bringing more people for shorter times is disruptive. Overcrowding the streets and beaches is frustrating and destructive.
The calm nature of the Island is being sacrificed for money.
Maybe our biggest threat is not climate change, maybe the threat is being too popular for our own good. — KATHLEEN WIXTED FRANCIS
How property is used — the real STR question
To the Editor, Thank you for your excellent editorial “Cracking Down on Commercial STRs.” We should not simply “shrug and expect that anybody who buys an island house, rents it for big money, then lives in it for a couple of weeks themselves” fits into the tradition of renting out a family home.
The question isn’t whether a person or an entity owns a property. In fact, most island properties, including those that are not rented at all, are owned in the names of trusts or LLCs. The real question is how the property is used, and that’s the foundation behind our zoning laws.
For example, the owner of 10 year-round rentals isn’t violating local zoning because long-term rentals are consistent with residential zoning, regardless of whether the owner is a corporation or an individual. And the island desperately needs rental units for year-round residents.
On the other hand, a residential property used primarily or exclusively as an STR is a commercial use that is not allowed in residential neighborhoods. It’s irrelevant whether the owner is a corporation, a small group of investors, or an individual owner. The use is the same, and the result is also the same: it leads to the complete commercialization of our neighborhoods.
Over the last few decades, I’ve seen the island transformed from a quiet, family-oriented community into an overcrowded commercial resort.
Will Nantucket preserve its natural beauty and community spirit, or will it succumb to exploitation by outside money? Allowing the conversion of family homes into hotel rooms spells doom for the island we love.
That’s why I’m hoping voters will support Article 60 (sponsored by Emily Kilvert) because it allows STRs to continue so long as the homes in our neighborhoods are used primarily as homes. — JAY WILSON
Article 60: a common-sense approach to STRs
To the Editor: This year we will have the third Town Meeting where voters will consider short-term-rental-related articles. I think many islanders, myself included, want to see progress on this important issue. After nine months, dozens of meetings and hundreds of thousands in consultant fees, the STR workgroup is far from a recommendation and now kicking the can to the end of 2023 for a proposal at the earliest.
The only way we can make progress on STRs is to cast aside the misinformation that’s circulating. I read Article 60, and it seems like a common-sense first step to set a foundation for the island’s STR policy.
Under Article 60, 100 percent of existing STRs in residential zones can continue to operate as long as the home is used as a residence, including as a long-term rental, more often than as a short-term rental. “Residential use” is use by the owner or long-term rentals (over 31 days). Article 60 will ensure that STRs are legal and protect homeowners without turning our island neighborhoods into clusters of full-time commercial STRs at the expense of our community.
This idea that an unheated summer cottage can’t comply is entirely inaccurate. If a cottage can only be lived in for five months out of the year, even if the owners don’t use the property, it can be rented as an STR for 2 1/2 months and two long-term rentals for the other 2 1/2 months. There is no owner residency requirement. The only requirement is that the property is used for long-term rentals and/or by the owner more than as an STR.
Take a moment to read article 60 in the Town Meeting warrant. I think what’s clear is that unrestricted for-profit commercial interests are replacing the island’s tradition where local and summer homeowners rent to help offset expenses. Instead, full-time STR businesses are taking over our neighborhoods. I hope every voter will take the time to carefully read Article 60 and see that it’s a common-sense proposal. We can’t afford to wait. — SANFORD KENDALL
Protecting our neighborhoods
To the Editor: Melissa and Devon Murphy’s heartfelt thanks to their neighbors for saving their house from burning down and to their friends and others in the community who came to their aid in their time of need speaks to us all. It is just the latest of countless Letters to the Editor lauding and thanking neighbors, friends and community members for their unstinting and generous support — in other words, for their neighborliness.
I can’t imagine a better “poster child” than the Murphy’s letter for the value and importance of our island neighborhoods, places where people know one another, look out for each other and work together to support these small communities.
For most (probably all) of us who call Nantucket our full-time or alternate home, neighborhoods are an essential ingredient that makes Nantucket so special and unique. They are what so many of us are fighting so hard to keep alive. Their existence depends on people actually living in them and calling them home, at least part of the time. We must keep this top of mind when considering steps to codify the tradition of renting family homes in our neighborhoods.
To this end, Article 60 deserves an honest evaluation as a means to protect our rental tradition and our neighborhoods too. — ANNE DEWEZ
Setting the record straight on what Article 60 does
To the Editor:
The Inquirer and Mirror published another letter from Bob Vidoni where he continues to repeat incorrect information about Article 60, a zoning amendment to allow short-term rentals in residential zoning. Many long-time residents, myself included, support this proposal. We believe the island and its voters can get behind it because it accomplishes two things:
Article 60 protects homeowners by assuring that STRs are legal in residential zoning districts. Contrary to Mr. Vidoni’s suggestion, there is no residency requirement. The language simply makes it clear that owner-occupied properties have more protections. It seems understandable, given how hard it has become to live and work on the island.
The bottom line is that 100 percent of STRs in residential zones would have a pathway to comply with Article 60.
In other words, every homeowner will have the ability to STR (and the option to do it in the future) under one simple condition: the property must be used as a residence more than an STR. “Residential use” means any use by the owner (for any length of time) or any rental longer than 31 days.
Article 60 will prevent strictly commercial STR businesses (where no one lives) from operating in residential neighborhoods. With 97 percent of the island in residential zoning, we must protect our cherished neighborhoods from the unrestricted commercial interests that are continuing to target Nantucket.
The full text of Article 60 is included below. I encourage all Nantucket voters to read it for themselves rather than listen to misinformation from those trying to defend the indefensible status quo. Complete Text Of Article 60: “In residential districts, Short-Term Rentals are permitted on Owner Occupied properties. For purposes of this section 139 only, the duration of Owner Occupied shall be at least six months in each calendar year.
For non-Owner Occupied properties in residential districts, a Short-Term Rental shall be considered a permitted accessory use provided (1) the primary dwelling and secondary dwelling, if applicable, are each used for long-term residential use more than short-term rental use; and (2) the Short-Term Rental is registered with the Town in accordance with General Bylaw § 123.
All other STRs in residential districts are prohibited.” — EMILY KILVERT
Article 60 protects island homeowners
To the Editor: I’ve been watching the STR workgroup meetings with disbelief. I was originally hopeful this effort would yield meaningful results to move the town forward on the issue of STRs. I was very disappointed, and a little stunned, that I didn’t get to vote on the STR zoning articles at last year’s Town Meeting.
Afterwards, I applied for an at-large seat on the STR workgroup as a qualified candidate. I am a year-round resident who rents my home monthly every July, to people whom I carefully vet, however, I’d like the option to rent weekly if I needed to in the future. Article 60 allows me to do that.
Back to the workgroup. This group and the “pre-workgroup workgroup” have been meeting for nine months, spending big bucks, six-figure bucks, “our bucks,” on off-island consultants, and they are no closer to a recommendation than when they started.
Watching these meetings has become painful. I’m concerned that neither the town nor the workgroup seem to have any sense of urgency. Pending lawsuits and the town’s inaction are leaving Nantucket homeowners unprotected, while giving off-island LLCs and corporate investors free rein in our neighborhoods.
This is why I signed Article 60: because it protects Nantucket homeowners, not to mention our neighborhoods. Article 60 assures Nantucket homeowners that STRs in residential areas will have the ability to continue to rent their property, provided they live in it more than it is rented.
Please be aware of misinformation, confusing messaging and scare tactics. Article 60 protects Nantucket homeowners. It does not protect off-island corporate investors. I urge voters to read the article for yourselves. It does not “ban” STRs at all, but it will restrict purely commercial STR businesses in our residential neighborhoods. That’s it, real simple, a no-brainer, and a good thing.
While we cannot bring Nantucket back to the simpler times that many of us remember, we can help stop the bleeding. Please join me by attending Town Meeting May 6 and supporting a yes vote on Article 60. — PATSY WRIGHT
Commercial STRs hurting islanders who rent their homes
To the Editor: Like many islanders, I rent my home for a few weeks each summer. It helps me defray some of the costs of upkeep on my historic home. Last week I read an article which stated there are more summer vacation rentals available right now compared to this time last year. The report said one cause was an increase in the supply of vacation rentals on the Cape and Islands.
The STR topic is a hot debate, yet one of the concerns hasn’t been discussed much so far. Nantucket’s tradition is for homeowners to rent out their homes occasionally to help offset expenses. Yet, in the last ten years, more for-profit STR businesses are emerging, including on Nantucket.
Aren’t we, the homeowners, in direct competition with the wave of commercial STRs moving into Nantucket’s neighborhoods?
Every year, there is more pressure to keep up by adding amenities from air conditioning to pools, hot tubs, fire pits, ensuite bathrooms, etc. I worry that homeowners are at a severe disadvantage to these commercial interests with deep pockets, an active social media presence, marketing budgets, and dynamic pricing tools.
The island’s STR policy should prioritize our tradition of rentals by homeowners, not these commercial interests. That’s why I support Article 60. I think passing Article 60 sets the foundation for an STR policy prioritizing our economy and community. — ABBY CAMP
STRs part of the housing crisis
To the Editor:
I didn’t understand the extent of the housing crisis until I was looking for year-round housing options for one of my long-time employees. Ultimately, it became clear that finding attainable housing for a critical employee is impossible.
I first moved to the Island and started my construction company in the nineties. I was able to acquire a commercial property and put together a great team to grow my business. It sounds simple, but replicating this scenario today would be almost impossible. Local businesses are Nantucket’s engine. How can they build a team if there’s nowhere for employees to live?
We all know Nantucket’s housing crisis is only getting worse. I was shocked to learn that over the last ten years, Nantucket lost over one-third of its year-round rentals (even with a big jump in the year-round population and a construction boom).
Although there’s no silver bullet to solving these problems, Article 60 could help make living and working on the Island a little easier. Article 60 lays the foundation for STR policy that protects homeowners’ ability to short-term rent, encourages more long-term rentals (which we desperately need), and protects our neighborhoods from commercialization. It also helps maintain our tourism economy.
Under Article 60, every homeowner can short-term rent as long as the home is used more often as a residence than as an STR. There are many ways to make it work — the home can be used by the owner, family, friends, longer-term rentals (over 31 days), or a combination.
Article 60 stops strictly commercial STRs in our neighborhoods. If commercial entities want to continue to short-term rent, they’ll have to find ways to incorporate more residential use into their properties, which would benefit our community.
The Island would be in better shape if we had more year-round rentals. It’s going to take a lot to help Nantucket’s housing problems and Article 60 is a step in the right direction. — SCOTT T. O’CONNOR
Enough is Enough
We’ve heard a lot about the need for more data related to short-term rentals (STRs) for vacationers.
Enough is enough.
We don’t need more data, another consultant, or months of study group meetings to tell us what we already know.
We want to be able to rent our homes to help pay the expenses of owning a home on Nantucket.
That is our tradition.
We do not want our neighborhoods to become benefit centers for for-profit commercial interests. The short-term rental industry has become big business. And Nantucket is a prime target for increasing commercial investment in residential areas to run mini hotels.
If we do nothing, we leave homeowners and neighborhoods unprotected and commercial interests unrestricted.
Article 60 is a straightforward solution. It is a zoning change that allows homeowners to short-term rent in residential districts as long as the property is used more as a residence than it is used as a short-term rental.
All homeowners can find a way to continue to offer their homes as vacation rentals, now or in the future. I hope island voters will positively consider Article 60.
Let’s solve this zoning problem and move on to other important community issues that need our attention.
Sincerely, — ERIC SILFEN, MD
Residential areas destroyed by commercial STRs
To the Editor: I have carefully followed the short-term rental debate for approximately two years now, and one thing has become perfectly clear: absentee non-owner-occupied commercial STR businesses are destroying our residential neighborhoods.
An overwhelming majority of Nantucket residents have apparently reached the same conclusion. Last year, for example, in a survey of Monomoy residents, more than two-thirds stated that they opposed commercial STRs. At the Town Meeting last May, voters were poised to reject a proposal which would have legalized commercial STR businesses in residential neighborhoods. The misguided proposal was tabled at the 11th hour to avoid its inevitable defeat.
What can we do going forward to ensure that our residential neighborhoods are not inundated with absentee- owned commercial STR businesses? The answer is simple and straightforward. Support and vote for passage of Article 60 at the Town Meeting in May. It is a practical and sensible solution to address the STR issue.
Article 60 will prohibit purely commercial STR businesses in residential neighborhoods and ensure that Nantucket homeowners can short-term rent their homes.
These are the two most critical issues that any STR policy must address. So, let’s make our voices heard to maintain the peace and quiet and strong sense of community that characterize our residential neighborhoods.
Let’s stop the profiteering outside investment groups from destroying our island. Let’s ensure that Nantucket homeowners can continue to short term rent their homes.
And let’s save the Nantucket we all love and appreciate. Support Article 60. — ALAN RUBINSTEIN
Yes on Article 60 will protect a community tradition
To the Editor: Reading through the latest letters that bring “billionaires” into the shortterm- rental discussion, there’s a clear attempt to mislead and distract island residents from the real issues that are deteriorating our community: we may not have a Ph.D. after our name, but we’re not stupid.
Opposing sides of the STR issue both agree on one very important thing: the island’s current zoning needs to be amended because it does not provide for any STR use in residential districts. I know most of us living here are too busy to follow everything that’s happening, and there is so much distortion of the heart-of-the-matter when you read a “nugget” or see an ad.
A short version of how we’ve arrived at this point: Last year, the Planning Board introduced Article 42, which would have permanently allowed any STR use islandwide without restrictions. We, the voters, understood the disastrous implications and were ready to defeat Article 42, but a well-planned maneuver by a Planning Board member had the article tabled, thereby avoiding defeat, saving face and gaining more time to reconfigure their next move.
A year later, the STR workgroup meetings have not resolved the assigned task, dragging this on. No one living on Nantucket wants to permanently allow all STR use in all residential neighborhoods. We don’t. But we do know that we want to maintain Nantucket’s traditions and tourism economy, just not at the expense of becoming another Disneyland.
Article 60 is a good approach to protect our tradition of homeowners renting their homes to offset costs (but not make a living running a small hotel), while avoiding the complete commercialization of our precious, but declining, yearround neighborhoods.
I’m not sure why I’ve been surprised to see mailings and messages from VRBO, Airbnb and others in the STR industry who aren’t invested in our community trying to tell us how to think and vote. They are killing it with summer rentals, making money for themselves and their shareholders. And didn’t the Cape and Islands Chamber of Commerce just receive a large grant to create a campaign for tourism in the shoulder seasons? Do you wonder who will reap those monetary rewards and fight STR regulations more fiercely?
I own property that will be affected by the proposed zoning amendment, but I support it because I feel very strongly that Nantucket is going down a route that will make more of us just cash in our chips and move off-island. Remember those bumper stickers from the 1980s: “The Grey Lady has had the Meat” and “This is NOT Disney”?
Why are we back to that sentiment? Time is ticking. Do the most good with least harm: The most good is for the future of a Nantucket with a real community. The least harm would be to remove the use of our neighborhood homes as money-making machines. With another busy summer coming straight at us, please take time to go to Town Meeting on Saturday, May 6 and join me in voting yes for Article 60. — PATRICIA STOLTE
Article 60 Is Not Perfect, But It Is Good And It Is Now
Peter Hoey • Apr 05, 2023
“One in the hand … is worth two in the bush”. This proverb, slightly altered, first appeared in the English language in 1546. Webster’s dictionary defines its meaning: “It is better to hold onto something one has, than to risk losing it by trying to get something better.”
That is exactly the choice that voters will be presented with at Nantucket’s 2023 ATM when they vote to accept or reject Emily Kilvert ‘s Warrant Article 60. Her article will immediately legalize Short Term Rentals for Nantucket homeowners (and deny for-profit enterprises). The Town has appointed ten primary and six alternate members to the Short Term Rental Work Group (STRWG) and charged them to analyze the STR landscape on island and propose warrant articles for a Special Town Meeting next Fall.
I have watched all of the STRWG Zoom meetings. They started slowly, but have made progress this year. Early on they set admirable (and lofty) goals, all of which may not be achievable.
To be clear, I support the efforts of the STRWG, and also their decision to postpone the date of their proposed solution(s). They are developing needed data and researching how other communities addressed STR’s in order to develop intelligent proposals. Their March 14 meeting included an excellent panel discussion from Palm Springs, Scottsdale and Honolulu. While these cities are much larger, and two of them do not face Nantucket’s geographic challenges, they are facing the same STR issues and offered helpful solutions. Interestingly, Palm Springs has established regulations with similar effects to Ms. Kilvert’s Article 60. Scottsdale is far ahead of Nantucket w/r to data collection and intelligent regulations. Their spokesman stressed how important communication was, in order to develop trust and support in their community.
Which brings me to an important point – continuous and effective communication. The STRWG seems to feel that informing the community means Zoom meetings and posting minutes on the Town website. Wrong. They need to be much more pro-active if they want keep voters informed.
The Planning Board and Select Board have made clear that they do not support any of the STR articles at Town Meeting in May, including Article 60,. They’re asking voters to defeat the article, and wait for the STRWG to complete its deliberations and offer “better” solutions at a Special Town Meeting next fall. That would be the “two in the bush”, but we don’t know what, specifically, they will propose.
As it stands now, voters at ATM are faced with what might be called a Hobson’s choice – take the bird in the hand (Ms. Kilvert’s Article), which seems like a reasonable effort to address our STR problem immediately … or wait, and maybe (or maybe not) get two in the bush – the Select Board’s and STRWG’s promised “better solution” next fall.
Why can’t we have both … one in the hand and two in the bush?
I have seen both sides of the STR debate. My wife and I rented our guest cottage in Tom Nevers for nine years before moving closer to town in 2018. We also lived right next door to “The Wedding Factory” and endured 57 weddings between 2000 and 2018.
Personally, I plan to vote for Article 60 in May. But I’d be more willing to vote it down and wait, if I had some clear progress reports on exactly what the STRWG has discovered, and what their proposed articles will contain. In other words, more info on what’s in the bush.
Article 60 is not perfect, but it is good and it is now. To quote Voltaire: “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
Let’s pass Article 60 – NOW – and let the STRWG offer improvements next Fall. — PETER HOEY
Support Regs of Article 60
To the editor:
I am in favor of Article 60 at the upcoming Town Meeting, which will protect Nantucket homeowners’ ability to short-term rent while prohibiting purely commercial STRs. I’m voting yes on Article 60 because I’ve seen what results when there’s no regulation.
My sister has lived since the 1980s on Isle of Palms, a very small barrier island about 12 miles northeast of Charleston, SC. She was an art teacher, and she bought her house back then on a teacher’s salary. At that time the island’s housing mostly consisted of one-story brick ranch houses with two or three bedrooms, built right after World War II to house returning veterans. Access to the island was only through a bridge at the southern end of Sullivan’s Island, to the south of IOP and some seven miles away from my sister’s house at the center of Isle of Palms. She was part of a small, tight community much like Nantucket. People did things like help the sea turtles make their way to the sea from their nests, bring home made food to the fire department on Thanksgiving, and volunteer at the police department.
Over time the small houses on IOP were bought up by off-island owners and torn down. They were replaced by huge two and three story buildings with multiple living areas, fire pits, many bedrooms (and no gardens), and rented out on a short term basis to bridal parties, corporate retreats, bachelor parties, etc. Sure, the local housing became more valuable, because its potential was greater for a high stream of investment income. But the teachers like my sister, not to mention local firemen, policemen, nurses and others, became scarcer and scarcer.
Isle of Palms built a bridge to the mainland. We don’t have a bridge. If we lose our nurses, teachers, firemen, policemen—how will we provide essential services to our community?
It’s critical to our community that we tap the brakes on short-term rentals to protect local housing and island neighborhoods. Attempts by the Town have singularly failed (there’s no solution in sight) and time is of the essence on this issue.
Article 60 protects our homeowners, neighborhoods and housing. We voters should vote YES support it. — GEORGIA RAYSMAN
STRs taking away housing stock
To the Editor: On May 6, the Annual Town Meeting will take up Article 60 regarding shortterm rental regulation. As a seasonal resident, I cannot vote, but hope a super-majority to pass it is reached. Most of us agree that we need action on STRs. Simply permitting STRs everywhere on the island, as the Planning Board article last year would have allowed, does not conform to case law in Massachusetts.
The STR work group is in protracted data-gathering mode while investors continue to snap up properties around the island and exacerbate the problem to be ultimately handled. There is a steady drift toward less yearround housing on Nantucket. As homes with the appealing characteristics targeted by investors turn over, more of that stock is being converted to STRs.
This especially hollows out the middle of the range of housing available for year-round use. It leads to an unwelcome cycle of less long-term rentable housing stock, followed by an affordable- housing supply crisis, then the approval under duress of more high-density development and finally, the next response to further STR conversions and housing stock declines.
This permanently alters the Nantucket we know. Action is needed sooner than later. Article 60 deliberately sets a higher hurdle of owner occupancy to promote less STR use overall, but leaves such properties free to rent. If Article 60 is passed, it would immediately dissuade investors from buying a residence solely for STR use and would likely prompt them to sell off such properties already operating in residential neighborhoods, where they would not pass muster with the occupancy requirement.
We needn’t worry about “grandfathering” because under current code, STRs are not an accessory use and you can’t grandfather something that isn’t allowed in the first place. Article 60 is a straight-forward solution we could use today; it perfectly meshes with the “registration article” passed last year. If and when the short-term rental work group comes up with a better answer, it can be debated at a future Town Meeting. Waiting does not help.
— KENNETH GENTNER
Unrestricted Commercial Short-Term Rentals Are A Disaster. Yes On Article 60
To the editor: I was seduced by charming Nantucket as a college student and I’ve been a summer resident ever since, which is longer than I’d like to admit. In the last ten years, I’ve been watching the evolution of Nantucket’s tradition of vacation rental by homeowners into what seems like a growing group of commercial and real estate interests who want to ensure Nantucket turns into a giant short-term rental project. My Brant Point home is now surrounded by hard partying weekly rentals during July and August.
I’m not surprised to observe a sea of off-island money flooding the island with advertisements to sway voters into maintaining unrestricted commercial short-term rentals across Nantucket’s residential neighborhoods. This transition is an utter disaster on so many levels, including but not limited to the complete breakdown of the fabric of neighborhoods.
I watched Charleston’s residential communities go through the same thing until the city leadership stepped in with the support of many long-time homeowners. I’ve been in the hospitality business in Charleston for decades, and I can tell you the economy is stronger than ever, even with some STR guardrails which have actually enhanced the Charleston experience.
Something must be done to protect the goose that laid the golden egg, which is unquestionably Nantucket’s history, charm, architecture, local traditions, residential neighborhoods, and unique sense of island community.
Article 60 (sponsored by Emily Kilvert) is directly aimed at addressing the main issue around short-term rentals: stopping residential homes in established neighborhoods from turning into profit-driven commercial hotels. If Nantucket voters agree, they should say YES to Article 60 to give the Town direction to address this critical issue.
Respectfully, — HANK HOLLIDAY
Town Counsel Is Flat Wrong On Article 60
To the editor: As a municipal and land use attorney with over 20 years of experience representing multiple Massachusetts towns, I’m writing in response to questions raised about Article 60 by Nantucket Town Counsel in a recent news article (“Town Counsel Red Flags Article 60” Nantucket Current, April 13, 2023). Undoubtedly folks will also recognize me as the lawyer representing ACK•Now on this issue.
First, Town Counsel’s suggestion that passage of Article 60 would trigger “grandfathering” protections (a term that the SJC has admonished lawyers not to use) for STRs in residential neighborhoods is flat wrong. It is well-established that so-called “grandfathering” is only triggered when a use is explicitly permitted under the bylaw and then later prohibited.
Massachusetts courts have established that only lawful uses may be “grandfathered.” See Hall v. Zoning Bd. of Appeals of Edgartown, 28 Mass. App. Ct. 249, 258 (1990). Further, Nantucket Zoning Bylaw § 139-6.A. prohibits any use that is not specifically permitted – and the Zoning Bylaw does not explicitly list Short-Term Rentals as a permitted use anywhere. Since short-term rentals are not explicitly permitted in the bylaw, this use may not be “grandfathered” under G.L. 40A §6.
In fact, even Mr. Giorgio acknowledges as much – “It’s hard to predict how a court is going to rule” and he recommends “a comprehensive zoning regulation to eliminate the legal jeopardy that so many people are in.” (Nantucket Current, 4/13/2023).
Indeed, if STRs are already legally allowed as Town Counsel suggests with his “grandfathering” statement about Article 60, the Planning Board-sponsored zoning article in 2022 to allow STRs island-wide would have been unnecessary.
In addition, Town Counsel’s concerns over what he calls “ambiguities” in Article 60 are unfounded. The term “Short-Term Rentals” is already defined in the General Bylaw and it is typical for the zoning bylaws to look to the General Bylaws for definitions (and vice versa).
Most importantly, however, Town Counsel and I agree Article 60 is the only proposed zoning fix that directly addresses the status of short-term rentals on Nantucket.
Sincerely, — NINA PICKERING-COOK
Vote Yes On Article 60
To the Editor,
I’m going to Town Meeting for the first time in a long time because I want to vote yes on Article 60.
One of the arguments I’ve heard is that maybe we should wait to see what the workgroup comes up with. I think waiting is a mistake for two reasons.
First, we have a real problem because STRs are illegal in residential areas under Nantucket’s current zoning – and everyone seems to agree that allowing unlimited STRs in neighborhoods is a terrible idea – yet there is no agreement from the workgroup that it should bring a zoning article at a future Town Meeting, let alone one that the voters can support.
Second and more importantly, there is disagreement among workgroup members on whether or not to protect all year-round resident’s ability to STR the home where they live. You can watch the March 28 meeting to see what I’m referring to.
Year-round residents renting the home where they live are certainly not the problem. Isn’t this part of the tradition we must protect? Renting (short or long-term) can help a family finally buy a home or pay for college. It’s hard enough to live and work here. Why would the workgroup want to make it harder?
Islanders should strongly consider voting yes on Article 60 because it guarantees our ability to rent our homes short-term. Article 60 would offer every homeowner a pathway to STR but would not leave commercial interests unrestricted access to operate STRs in our neighborhoods.
I hope to see you at Town Meeting and that you’ll vote yes on 60. I know many of you are getting into another busy season – this is a few hours on a Saturday that will help protect our community and our Island. — LIZ WINSHIP
Don’t Be Afraid Of Article 60
To the editor: We shouldn’t be afraid of Article 60. If it passes, every year-round resident would automatically be able to STR the property where they live (any part of the property) now or in the future. Even if you’re not a year-round resident, every homeowner could STR as long as the home is used more often as a home than as an STR. There are lots of ways to make it work, and it will protect our local traditions.
What Article 60 would not protect is the growing trend of buying a house to turn it into a full-time STR business. And I’m one of the concerned residents that genuinely thinks that this is a problem for our community that seriously needs to be addressed.
Nantucket has been my home since I was a baby. I am now 38, working hard and raising children next to people I’ve known my whole life, trying to keep it that way. There’s just one problem; homeownership is almost completely out of reach. And it’s not just me – it’s a lot of hard working people on Nantucket who are wondering why they’re still trying to call this island their home when they know they’ll never be able to own a home here.
I’d like you to ask yourself, what is Nantucket to you? Is Nantucket about the people or is it about the money? Because if it’s about the people then we have to make sure, right now, that our choices are protecting our island community from disappearing entirely.
We need to get back to a balance where a hard-working family can actually live here. A balance where a nurse, a firefighter, or small business owner has a chance at a life on Nantucket. A balance where we can have a strong economy, plenty of visitors, and we’re not losing teachers literally because they have nowhere to live.
Will Article 60 solve all our housing problems? No, but it does help stop the bleed. It takes the twinkle out of every off-island investor’s eye that says, “Ooooh, that Nantucket neighborhood looks ripe for the STR picking….” While, again, still maintaining a strong local economy.
We don’t need an expensive study or workgroup to see what’s in front of us. Year-round homes are being bought, left and right, by off-island buyers and LLCs. All you have to do is talk to anyone who lost their year-round rental because it was sold, or look at recent sales data, or scroll through that magical and exhilarating GIS website. It’s all there. Mid-island neighborhoods especially are a target for outside investors willing to pay 2-3 times what most year-round residents could even dream of affording. “Get me mid-island” is not a joke, it’s happening.
We need to get back to a place where our community can survive, and it’s going to take all of us from both sides. Let’s please start by preserving the year-round homes we still have. Then, let’s work together to come up with other crucial solutions to make homes more attainable for our island community. Please join me in voting yes on Article 60. — ALLYSON MITCHELL
Time to stop the bleeding
To the editor,
The first principle of emergency medicine is to stop the bleeding. Nantucket is hemorrhaging attainable neighborhood housing for year-round residents. What interventions to stop the bleeding are being tried? Transfusions of tens of millions of taxpayer dollars and town-managed housing projects that never seem to get built. Now, the Town is proposing a permanent override to keep transfusing taxpayer dollars into a patient that is bleeding out.
The Current has now exposed the Copley Group as the voice behind “The Alliance to Protect Nantucket’s Economy” warning about the dire economic impact of Article 60. Why shouldn’t they? Article 60 is aimed at their commercial STRs inserted into residential neighborhoods. It’s all about the money – theirs, not ours. And why should they care that they, and others like them, are fueling our unsustainable explosion of growth. They know we, the taxpayers, have to pick up the tab for that.
Let’s be real: commercial STR investment income goes off island and doesn’t fuel our local economy. The Copley Group itself says commercial STRs generate $7 million in tax revenue each year, far less than what is needed to replace the affordable housing we lose to commercial STRs. It is Nantucket taxpayers who are subsidizing commercial STRs by paying for upgrades to our already overburdened infrastructure to accommodate the increased lodging capacity they generate. It is Nantucket taxpayers who are subsidizing commercial STRs by funding initiatives to create housing for the families who service commercial STRs and their transient occupants.
Without Article 60, private commercial STR owners will buy and build more land and houses to rake in big bucks with five-figure weekly rental rates. Without voter intervention to stop this, no matter how many public dollars are spent, we will not be able to slow or reverse the real damage being done to Nantucket’s neighborhood housing market by unrestricted private equity investment. If Great Barrington just put a stop to commercial STRs (recently approved by the State according to Nantucket’s town counsel), why can’t we?
So, it’s time to do the obvious – apply a tourniquet to this critical patient by passing Article 60 on May 6 at ATM. It will not only halt the bleeding caused by commercial STRs but also grant legal protection to permanent and seasonal residents who responsibly rent their homes for supplemental income that is largely spent here.
The STR work group may come up with proposals to support a healthy housing market and regulate STR’s which Nantucket voters might approve….and it may not.
By passing Article 60 we can literally shove the envelope at the STR work group. If we don’t like what they propose, at least we will have something on the books to start to stanch the bleeding and heal the patient. — CHARITY BENZ
Dr. Tim Lepore On Article 60
To the editor: I’m a washashore who’s been here for 40 years. Article 60 is very straightforward to me. It protects Nantucket year-round and seasonal residents’ ability to short-term rent their homes by amending our zoning in residential neighborhoods to continue this tradition.
If you live on your property for six months or more, you’ll have the ability to rent as much as you want.
If you spend time in your home, you’ll be able to short-term rent in proportion to the time you spend there and any long-term rentals (over 31 days).
Even if you bought an investment property, Article 60 will allow you to short-term rent in proportion to the time it’s rented for longer periods.
One argument I hear is to wait until the workgroup comes up with something. I serve on a lot of committees, and let me tell you, if we wait until the workgroup is done, we’ll all be old (some of us beneath the waves). Article 60 will give the workgroup the guidance it needs from voters.
We don’t have time to wait – our community needs to take action now.
Nantucket no longer has the teachers, nurses, and police officers to serve our community because investors and corporations have artificially raised home prices by turning homes into mini-hotels.
Every day, we inch closer to becoming a commuting workforce. Many who manage to stay on the Island are living in cramped conditions. We will continue to lose our teachers, firefighters, and others (and fail to attract new workers) because they have no prospect of housing. There are no year-round rentals or homes to buy, and we are losing our year-round community and neighborhoods.
The younger generation – including our children – don’t see a future on Nantucket.
I don’t want to see Nantucket become an enclave for the rich and famous as community members sell out homes to off-island entities. Article 60 is a positive step to slow this trend and provide protection for homeowners and neighborhoods while maintaining a strong tourism economy and our traditional vacation rentals.
It’s not beaches and sunsets that make Nantucket special – it’s the people. If we want a community, we have to start making choices with this goal in mind. Article 60 is a start. It’s a simple and common-sense step in the right direction.
I hope you’ll join me in voting YES on Article 60 at Saturday’s Town Meeting. — DR. TIM LEPORE