North Elba, Lake Placid boards to talk vacation rental laws

LAKE PLACID — Local laws regarding vacation rentals and Airbnbs in this village are close to a reality.

The North Elba Town Council and the Lake Placid Village Board of Trustees will have a public meeting Thursday, Dec. 13 at 4 p.m. at the North Elba Town Hall to discuss each group’s preferences on the matter.

For a while now, Lake Placid and North Elba have been feeling the negative affects of unregulated vacation rentals and Airbnbs. People are no longer selling their homes, but rather renting them out. This drives up property values, making it hard to afford a home here. Sometimes the properties are rented out to too many guests, which can create crowded side streets, fire hazards and noise problems. These housing market issues have caused ripples throughout the community from annoyed longtime locals, to diminishing public school enrollment, to a short-staffed village police department.

Despite these problems, vacation rentals have become a major part of the town’s and village’s economies. Simply banning them all together could have great negative impacts, village Mayor Craig Randall said at Monday night’s board meeting.

“There are more than 800 listing in the Lake Placid-North Elba area, and there are times and events where there is simply not enough commercial lodging,” he said. “We’re talking about bringing the World University Games here in 2023, and it’s very clear to me that the short-term vacation rentals will play a role in providing housing for visitors coming for that event.”

Last week, Randall and town Supervisor Roby Politi had a preliminary meeting to discuss a draft of vacation rental laws. Randall said the talk with Politi went well.

“I’m not saying there won’t be differences of opinion when we get both boards around the table,” he said, “but as far as what we have for them to work with, it represents what the supervisor and I were able to jointly agree upon.”

During that meeting, Politi brought a copy of Vail, Colorado’s, ordinances on vacation rentals. Vail is another mountain town whose economy relies heavily on tourism and also has issues with vacation rentals.

One of the pieces of the document that Politi and Randall would like to adopt for local law is a “Good Neighbor” policy. It’s a sheet that’s given to every property renter and their tenants basically saying, “be nice and do the right thing.” Don’t leave the place looking like trash, don’t make too much noise, be aware of safety and fire hazards for you and the homes around you. Many local real estate offices already have policies like this, but this would extend to private renters.

The goal right now is to have laws set in place for the start of the new year.