Town, village may make different rental rules

LAKE PLACID — Lawmakers in the town of North Elba have directed the town attorney to draft two separate pieces of legislation related to short-term vacation rentals: revisions to an existing law jointly proposed by the village of Lake Placid and the town, and a new stand-alone law that would place restrictions on rentals within the town, outside village limits.

North Elba’s board will move forward with one or the other, not both, according to town Supervisor Roby Politi.

The time frame will likely be a contributing factor to which path forward the town board chooses.

“The bottom line is, this has gone on too long,” town board member Bob Miller said Tuesday.

Regardless of which route North Elba board members ultimately choose, they want to quickly stem the tide of short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods that aren’t already saturated by them.

Politi said the town is exploring ways to identify, and shield, those neighborhoods from rentals that aren’t owner-occupied.

Concerns over the number of short-term rentals in the village of Lake Placid, particularly the increasing number in traditionally residential areas, have continued to mount for more than a decade. Those concerns have come to a head lately.

The most recent version of a proposed law regulating short-term rentals, drafted by the village and town boards, would require those who rent out their properties on sites such as Airbnb, VRBO and HomeAway to apply for and secure a permit. It would also limit the number of visitors who stay there and ensure there’s adequate off-street parking to serve those visitors. Property owners who don’t abide by these could be fined $350 to $1,000 or spend up to 15 days in jail.

A public hearing on that law, held at the Olympic Center on Aug. 26, drew roughly 200 people and further compounded pressure on lawmakers to adopt restrictions that would help mitigate the impact of vacation rentals on the quality of life in residential neighborhoods, while also protecting the busy local tourism economy.

Regardless of whether the town adopts its own stand-alone law or moves forward with the village, another public hearing will be required because significant changes to the previously proposed law are expected, according to Politi. Another public hearing has not yet been scheduled.