Join us in voting YES on Article 60
Town Meeting is Saturday, May 6, 2023, at 8:30 AM at the Nantucket High School. Please mark your calendar!
Why do we need Article 60?
Nantucket’s zoning bylaw is clear: Short-Term Rentals (STRs) are not currently allowed in residential districts (97% of Nantucket is in residential zoning).
The Town’s hesitation to update local zoning is putting homeowners at risk of losing short-term rental income and paying legal fees depending on pending court decisions.
At the same time, local zoning laws leave commercial STRs unrestricted. These full-time commercial interests throughout our residential neighborhoods are in direct competition with homeowners and the community.
Homeowners are unprotected and commercial interests are unrestricted.
We need to take action.
Article 60 is a simple, common-sense step that creates a foundation for STR policy on Nantucket.
We believe the Island and its voters can get behind Article 60 because it helps to protect:
- Traditional vacation rentals
- Year-round housing
Article 60 protects our local tradition and our economy without giving commercial interests the upper hand on the Island.
What does the article say and do?
Every homeowner can short-term rent as long as the home is used more often as a residence than as an STR.
There are countless ways to comply — the home can be used by its owner, by family and friends, and for longer-term rentals (over 31 days) or any combination.
This article amends our existing zoning bylaw so that homeowners and neighborhoods are protected and commercial interests aren’t left unrestricted.
Article 60 as printed on page 32 in the 2023 Town Meeting Warrant:
(Zoning Bylaw Amendment: Short-Term Rental Accessory Use)
To see if the Town will vote to amend the Zoning Bylaws by amending Chapter 139 by inserting a new provision as follows, and further to authorize the Town Clerk to make non-substantive, ministerial revisions to the numbering of this bylaw in order that it be in compliance with the numbering format of the Code of the Town of Nantucket; or to take any other action relative thereto:
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.
Questions About Article 60
What will Article 60 do?
Article 60 will amend our existing zoning bylaw to allow short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods under one simple condition – the home (no matter who owns it) 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 – or a combination of both. The article ensures homeowners are protected while prohibiting purely commercial enterprises from operating STRs in residential zoning districts. Article 60 has no impact on STRs located in commercial districts.
How does Article 60 impact year-round homeowners’ ability to STR?
There would be no change. This article codifies and protects year-round homeowners’ ability to short-term rent without any limitations or zoning restrictions.
Does the Article impose a residency requirement in order to STR?
No, there is no residency requirement imposed by Article 60. In fact, 100 percent of existing STRs in residential zones would have a pathway to compliance regardless of residency/ownership. All homeowners in residential districts would be able to continue to short-term rent as long as the home is used as a residence more than it is used as an STR.
Why should we vote YES on Article 60 now?
Our zoning is clear – STRs are prohibited from residential neighborhoods. The town’s inaction to update zoning leaves homeowners unprotected and puts them at risk for losing STR rental income and paying for legal fees depending on pending court decisions. It also leaves commercial STRs unrestricted. These unrestricted full-time commercial interests throughout residential neighborhoods are in direct competition with homeowners and the community.
Why not wait for the STR workgroup to come up with a solution?
It’s been 10 months since town meeting directed the formation of a short-term rentals work group to identify either new bylaws and/or zoning to be voted on at this year’s town meeting. But the work group has not yet come to an agreed upon outcome that can be voted on at May’s Town Meeting.
We don’t need to wait – and voters don’t want to wait. Over 1,000 people were ready to vote at Town Meeting last year and many still don’t understand why they weren’t allowed to. People should have the opportunity to vote on this issue and fix this problem. When the work group does make recommendations, they can be addressed at a future town meeting.
Article 60 is a simple straightforward action that should be taken now, regardless of future recommendations of the work group.
Don’t we need more data to support decision-making?
We don’t need more data to understand that we have a problem with our zoning bylaw. Common sense says waiting for the courts to decide the fate of STRs on Nantucket is a bad idea.
Most people agree that we need to ensure Nantucket residents continue to have the ability to short-term rent their homes even in residential areas. If we let the courts decide, we run the risk of having a ruling that STRs are not allowed at all – causing a shutdown or serious disruption to ALL short-term rentals on the island. That’s reckless and irresponsible.
How will Article 60 benefit the Island?
Article 60 offers protection to homeowners and neighborhoods to maintain Nantucket’s traditional vacation rentals which are being replaced by unrestricted for-profit commercial interests. Homeowners who STR to offset expenses are competing against and being replaced by unrestricted for-profit commercial interests. This is not Nantucket’s tradition.
We all know Nantucket’s housing crisis has reached a critical point. Our community cannot afford to convert more homes into commercial STRs where no one ever lives. While Article 60 alone won’t solve the housing crises, it will be a signal to commercial STR interests to look elsewhere to convert homes strictly into STR businesses and will help maintain Nantucket’s traditional vacation rentals.
How will Article 60 impact tourism and town lodging revenue?
Article 60 should not have a significant impact on either the number of tourists or the town’s lodging tax revenue. Under the Article, 100% of existing homeowners would have a pathway to compliance.
Most homeowners that STR will find a way to continue to do so during the summer months when demand is highest. During slower months, with fewer STRs in operation, Island visitors can stay at traditional lodging establishments that remain open year-round. A UMASS study on Article 90 in 2021, while not applicable to Article 60, found no change in the number of tourists from January to April even with no STRs operating on the island.
How will Article 60 be enforced?
Amending the zoning would be the foundation of Article 60. If Article 60 passes, the Town’s STR registration program could be a strong mechanism for enforcement (a process for identifying, registering and regulating STRs). Ultimately, if passed, however, it would be up to the Zoning Board to adopt and implement a method of enforcement.
Who is supporting Article 60?
While Emmy Kilvert, a local business owner and year-round resident, is the official sponsor of the article, a broad group of community members and organizations came together to bring it forward and are supporting a YES vote on Article 60.