Trustee: Short-term rental moratorium will ‘stop bleeding’

LAKE PLACID — When someone is bleeding, you don’t stand around and assess the bleeding, you stop the bleeding, Lake Placid village Trustee Jason Leon said Monday.

That’s how Leon characterized what he saw as the effect of short-term vacation rentals on the village of Lake Placid: A flood that’s rising and drowning people who want to settle down here.

“If we take too long to address the flooding, we won’t help anyone that’s drowning,” Leon said.

Leon again called for the village to place a temporary moratorium on new short-term vacation rentals within the village at the board’s meeting this week, a proposal that officials in the town of North Elba disagreed with at a joint meeting last month. He also met opposition from his colleagues Monday, including village Attorney Janet Bliss, who said imposing a moratorium without a firm legal reason would be “welcoming litigation.”

“What we don’t have that would allow us to take further action on a moratorium is data,” Mayor Craig Randall said.

Talk of potentially imposing a moratorium was tabled, with the majority of village board members agreeing that more data was needed before taking action.

Village officials hope that data that may prove useful for crafting a moratorium or short-term rental legislation could come through a new housing study proposed by the Lake Placid-North Elba Community Development Commission.

If approved, the three-month, $20,000 study would look at what income range the committee should focus on serving, what housing stock is currently available to people who fall within that income range, what would be considered “affordable housing” for residents of this area, and potential gaps in the housing market.

The last time a comprehensive study of affordable housing in the Tri-Lakes was completed was 11 years ago, according to Dean Dietrich, chairperson of the CDC. That study didn’t take the impact of short-term rentals into account.

“I expect we’re going to find since 2008 other impacts, including those from short-term vacation rentals, have changed the playing field for residents here regardless of income,” Randall said.

The CDC received conceptual approval for moving forward with the study from both the town and village boards. The commission now has to return to the town board to request $20,000 from the town’s Adirondack Community Housing Fund to hire a consultant to do this work.

The CDC plans to coordinate with the Housing Assistance Program of Essex County, the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism and officials from the World University Games to put together a request for proposals for the study in the coming weeks. The 2023 World University Games in Lake Placid is slated to bring 2,500 student-athletes and delegates to the area. Those athletes will be housed in new developments that may be turned into affordable housing for residents afterward.

The village and town’s proposed short-term vacation rental regulations are still in draft form. The town board is expected to discuss the law at its next workshop meeting. Town Supervisor Roby Politi said last week the board intends to set a public hearing on the new version of the law sometime in August.