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Saranac Lake considers short-term rental registry

SARANAC LAKE — In an impromptu work session after a special meeting Thursday, the village board decided to work on gathering information for a registry of short-term rentals in the village.

“I’ve asked that we consider establishing a registry for vacation rentals in Saranac Lake,” said Mayor Clyde Rabideau, who has been a short-term rental host himself. “I think we should have this database in place for future consideration.”

Rabideau said that he had attended a meeting on Thursday with U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Lake Placid village Mayor Craig Randall and North Elba town Supervisor Robert Politi, and the issue of short-term rentals was brought up.

“They’re wrestling with it because their village and town has been tremendously impacted, and we are experiencing that, too — so far it’s been for the good,” Rabideau said. “The vast majority has been for the good.”

He said that could change, however, and issues like overcrowding could start to become a problem should the number of short-term rentals continues to grow.

The number of short-term rentals in Saranac Lake has grown from around 100 in the second quarter in 2016 to 255 in the second quarter in 2019, according to AirDNA, which keeps statistics on these rentals. The average daily rate is $240, the average room size is 2.7 bedrooms, and the average number of guests is 6.4.

In Lake Placid, the number of rentals jumped from around 150 in the second quarter in 2016 to 706 in the second quarter in 2019. The average rate is $376, the average number of bedrooms is 3.2, and the average number of guests is 7.8.

Saranac Lake village Trustee Melinda Little voiced approval for the registry.

“I don’t see a downside to it, and I think it would be helpful to our overall effort to have a better understanding of the housing in Saranac Lake,” Little said.

The trustees and mayor said they should gather the address of each short-term rental, the number of rooms, whether the owner lives on the property and is sharing the space, or if the owner is living elsewhere and renting out the entire property.

Little said she and Jamie Konkoski, community development director, are looking to gather the information from Franklin and Essex counties.

Trustee Patrick Murphy has been pushed out of two different Saranac Lake apartments because they were converted into Airbnb short-term rentals.

“Now, is my experience unique? I don’t know, but I think it’s good to get a baseline,” he said Friday.

He said this is especially true considering what Lake Placid is going through.

“Is there really an issue with Airbnbs taking up housing stock?” he added. He hopes to answer that question through a village housing task force he and Little are part of.

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Managing Editor Peter Crowley contributed to this report.

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