Lake Placid fields comments on draft STR rules

LAKE PLACID — Village residents and second homeowners voiced their opinions about the Lake Placid Village Board of Trustees’ new draft of STR regulations — along with their perspectives of how STRs are viewed in the community — at a public forum on Tuesday.

The forum, which lasted one and a half hours and was attended by around 30 people both in person and virtually, largely saw full-time, long-term residents and STR owners rehash ongoing debates over what they see as the impact of STRs on the community and local economy. Some speakers did address specific parts of the village’s proposed STR regulation changes.

The village released its first draft of proposed STR regulations this past Friday. Under the proposed regulations, the village would have two types of STR permits: One for “unhosted” properties and one for “hosted” properties. While hosted permits could be issued in any district within the village as long as the property is occupied by the owner for at least 184 days per year, unhosted permits would only be allowed in the village center, gateway corridor and Old Military Road corridor districts.

Existing unhosted STR permit-holders in the village residential district — and the town residential district within the village — would be allowed to renew their permits until there is a change of ownership of the property. According to the village’s draft, a change of ownership includes any change — into a trust, life tenancy or new members of an LLC. The permit would not transfer to a new owner. People can view the village’s complete draft of proposed STR regulations at tinyurl.com/4yn253tf.

People who want to submit written comments about the village’s direction with STR regulations can email their thoughts to village Clerk Anita Estling at lpclerk@villageoflakeplacid.ny.gov. Estling said she shares all of the written comments she receives with the entire village board.

90-day limit, “lifetime” permits

Several meeting attendees addressed the village’s proposed 90-day limit for hosted permits. Many people felt that the limit shouldn’t exist since the host is living on the property and would be able to supervise their guests to some degree, and some said the limit could prevent locals from earning a much-needed supplement to their incomes. Mayor Art Devlin repeatedly said that while the village is proposing a 90-day limit for hosted permits right now, there’s a chance the village board could revisit those day limits in future reevaluations of the village’s STR regulations.

“I don’t see us ever having a year where we don’t revisit this and see how we did,” Devlin said. “It’s just too important.”

The 90-day limit for hosted permits isn’t a change from the village’s current 90-day limit for hosted permits. While the definition of “hosted” permits on the Building and Planning Department’s website states that a hosted permit could be exempt from the 90-day rule if the host lives there for more than 184 days per year, village officials said this week that this exemption never made it into the village’s STR law that was passed in 2020; the village has been enforcing a 90-day limit with all unhosted permits.

The village is also proposing that all existing unhosted permits in residential areas in the village be allowed to renew their permit until there’s a change in ownership, and some meeting attendees were concerned that those permits could continue to be renewed for decades — resident Karen Armstrong called it a “lifetime permit.” Others were concerned that they wouldn’t be able to pass on their STR permit, along with their home, to their children in the future.

Devlin said the village’s hope is that someone who chooses to keep their unhosted permit would be a “good neighbor.” He thought the 90-day limit on the permits would discourage people or investors who are simply looking for a profit from buying a residential home in the village for STR use.


Enforcement and compliance with the village’s STR laws was another popular topic at Tuesday’s meeting. The village and the town of North Elba are joining forces in an effort to strengthen enforcement of STR regulations by redistributing responsibilities in the Building and Planning Department and creating an “STR compliance monitor,” an existing employee of the department who would be in charge of checking on STR compliance in the permit system, following up on violations and checking with village police to see if there were calls for noise or parking issues related to STRs. The village also wants to increase permit fees and fines and implement regulations that carry civil penalties rather than criminal penalties, which are the only penalties the village has been able to issue under the current regulations, according to the village’s draft.

Town resident Trish Friedlander thought the compliance monitor should also patrol STRs in person to ensure compliance with regulations. She believed it could be beneficial if the compliance monitor would lodge formal complaints against STRs when they come across issues, rather than leaving non-compliance reporting to full-time residents. Several full-time residents said on Tuesday, as they have in past meetings, that they fear some form of retribution from owners of STRs if a complaint is filed; residents noted that they’re required to identify themselves when filing a complaint. Armstrong said that it’s also taxing to constantly file complaints against STRs that are frequently noisy or have other noncompliance issues. As a result, she said, they “just live with it.”

Devlin said he wasn’t sure if the village could assign these complaint duties to the compliance monitor, but he said the village would look into it.

Several people shared past problems they’ve encountered or experienced with STR compliance — people skirting the 90-day limit, renters piling up trash on STR properties, and even people defecating on lawns. To most of these concerns, Devlin noted that enforcement of STR regulations has become the village’s top priority.

“I’ll be the first to admit we need to do better,” he said. “And we’ll do our best.”

STRs and locals

There was some exchange during Tuesday’s meeting between full-time residents who don’t own STRs and part-time residents who do own and operate STRs. Bob DiMartino, a second homeowner who rents his home on Hillcrest Avenue as an STR, said that STRs existed on Hillcrest when he bought his home there over two decades ago. Before online vacation rental platforms rose in popularity, many STRs were operated by real estate agencies, though some residents did rent out their properties independently. DiMartino noted that many properties in the village are marketed by Realtors as homes that could also be used as STRs.

“I didn’t change the neighborhood, is the way I look at it,” he said, though he said he has heard residents’ concerns about loud parties and trash. “This is a tourist resort community, you all realize that, right?”

He thought that the Hillcrest area, which is bookended with commercial buildings, likely wouldn’t become a “neighborhood” again as a result of the village’s new regulations; Devlin said multiple times during the meeting that the board’s hope with its proposed STR regulations is to return some of the local housing stock to people who want to live in Lake Placid full-time.

A few second homeowners who operate STRs felt that the village board was conflating the local affordable housing crisis with a need for more STR regulations and restrictions. DiMartino noted that he thought local wages often aren’t enough for people to afford a home in the village anyway.

Amstrong said she felt that some STR owners’ assessment of the local community landscape was disrespectful — she asked second homeowners with STRs to stop telling locals to “be happy” and that locals would never be able to afford homes in village neighborhoods anyway.

“I feel like everyone tries to tell us how to feel, saying, ‘you are like Disneyland,’ and that we aren’t thinking human beings, but characters,” she said. “… To say constantly, ‘you’re a tourist town, you’re a tourist town, you’re a tourist town,’ I feel, is disrespectful and treats us as if we don’t have minds of our own.”

One second homeowner with an STR who attended the meeting virtually — who identified themselves as only “Megan” — felt that STR owners are “vilified as a monster business owner” in village board meetings. She thought most STR owners like herself, who grew up in Lake Placid, aren’t like that. She thought most second homeowners are renting their homes as an STR to offset the costs of their taxes and mortgage. Several second homeowners at Tuesday’s meeting said that they feel like they’re part of the Lake Placid community and that they want to contribute to the area and be “good neighbors.”

Devlin said he was glad full-time residents and second homeowners with STRs had a chance to talk together on Tuesday.

“The more communication there is, the more people understand where each person’s coming from,” he said.

The village’s draft of STR regulations comes as the board of trustees plans to extend its moratorium on the issuance of new STR permits. The village board has scheduled a public hearing at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 19 on a proposed three-month partial moratorium extension that would only apply to areas zoned as village residential, town residential and South Lake districts within the village. The village’s moratorium will lift in the village center, gateway corridor and Old Military Road corridor districts on Sept. 30.


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