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Updated regs for short-term rentals due soon in Lake Placid

LAKE PLACID — A new version of a short-term vacation rental law may be released in the next few weeks.

Lake Placid village attorney Janet Bliss said at the village board’s meeting Monday that a revised version of the law is expected to come out in the coming weeks, and that a public hearing on the new regulations will likely be scheduled for sometime in January. The village and the town of North Elba are jointly proposing the law to register and regulate short-term vacation rentals, including through online platforms such as Airbnb, VRBO and HomeAway.

“The town and village boards have engaged with outside (legal) counsel who has more expertise on this, and will now more forward,” Bliss said.

Addressing concerns

The town and village boards jointly proposed a law designed to regulate short-term vacation rentals in January. A public hearing followed, then another version of the law in August, with another public hearing after that. This upcoming version of the law, and subsequent public hearing, will mark the third time this year lawmakers will attempt to adopt a set of regulations.

The August version of the law would have required those who rent out their properties short-term to apply for and secure a permit, limit the number of visitors who stay there and ensure there’s adequate off-street parking to serve those visitors.

Village Mayor Craig Randall said the law is being revised to address some of the concerns residents raised at the last public hearing.

Asked for an example of the sort of concerns the village hopes to address, Randall said the law’s new version will likely make a distinction between a short-term rental unit owned by a second-homeowner and an “investor-owned” rental unit where the owner doesn’t live.

The village is also hoping to “head off potential litigation with respect to this type of legislation” by revising the regulations, Randall said.

“We expect some second-homeowners may not be happy with any limitations whatsoever,” he said.

Housing study

A revised version of the law was initially expected to be released following the completion of a housing study commissioned by the North Elba-Lake Placid Community Development Commission. A public meeting on that study happened Tuesday, and the results are slated to be released in January.

The housing study, which is being conducted by Saratoga Springs-based consulting firm Camoin 310, will assess Lake Placid’s existing housing stock, identify gaps in the market, look for ways to improve the availability of affordable and workforce housing, as well as examine the impact of short-term vacation rentals on the housing market.

But Bliss said Monday the law is independent from the study and could be adopted before it’s released.

North Elba town Supervisor Roby Politi said he thinks it’s common sense that the municipalities wait to see the results of the study before moving forward, but that the law could be adopted and later amended based on the results.

The new version of the law will include a provision allowing the town to move forward with changes to its land-use code and modifications to specific districts without consulting the village, Politi added. The law will give the village that same power.

Concerns over the number of short-term rentals in the village, particularly the increasing number in traditionally residential neighborhoods, have continued to mount for more than a decade. Those concerns have come to a head in the last few years, with the public pressuring lawmakers to mitigate the impact of vacation rentals on the quality of life in residential areas, while trying to protect the local tourism economy.

In September, the North Elba council discussed exploring ways to identify, and shield, neighborhoods within the town but outside the village from rentals that aren’t owner-occupied. While most neighborhoods within the village are saturated, there remain some areas where vacation rentals have not been established yet. The town has not unveiled possible code modifications to accomplish that goal.