To the editor:
Temporarily moving on to other community issues:
I suggest the single biggest factor causing UNaffordable housing in the town of North Elba and the village of Lake Placid is the vacation home rental market.
Houses are being purchased at inflated market prices, not as residences but as short-term rental units capable of generating incredible amounts of money.
To date, these vacation home rental units are UNregulated, UNlicensed, UNpermitted, often with absentee landlords, no caretakers and, despite being commercial enterprises, there are only owner-discretionary standards for the health, safety and welfare of the renters, including but not limited to the maximum occupancy (two-bedroom house, sleeps 12, park anywhere, party till dawn — bigger events anyone?).
These properties don’t pay commercial rates for sewer, water, electric or property taxes. They require extra effort for a bed tax collection, and we can only imagine the income tax loopholes.
Our neighborhoods have been hollowed out, and the quality of our life is deteriorating. We need a new model.
The town and village need to adopt rules and regulations for vacation home rentals, and I’m sure the New York State Department of Health could supply knowledge and resources already in place, to be supplemented by adequate oversight and enforcement by the town and village.
The cost of this oversight and enforcement should be borne jointly by the town and village (and while we are at it, let’s combine the town and village to reflect present-day realities!), and judging by recent news reports, it appears that our municipalities have funds available for good projects. Those funds, coupled with collection of the 3 percent bed tax, would provide ample resources to bring the vacation home rental market under control.
We need to focus on the basic foundations of our community, and through that hard work we can achieve sustainable future growth.