Lake Placid should pass new STR regulations

It was more than three years ago when former North Elba town Supervisor Roby Politi said, in a public meeting at the North Elba Town House in Saranac Lake, that the town was exploring ways to shield residential neighborhoods from short-term vacation rentals that aren’t owner-occupied.

On Monday — what feels like a lifetime later — the North Elba Town Council and Lake Placid Village Board of Trustees unveiled a proposed law that seeks to accomplish just that.

The new draft STR regulations, if adopted, would essentially ban any new “unhosted” STRs from residential neighborhoods.

In North Elba, outside of the village of Lake Placid, the number of “unhosted” permits — permits issued for properties that are largely investment properties, where the owner doesn’t live — would be capped at 165 townwide.

Unhosted permits would also no longer be issued for properties in residential areas, and though existing “unhosted” permitholders in those areas will be able to keep their permits, when those properties are sold or otherwise transferred to a new owner, the new owners won’t be eligible for an STR permit.

The village, under the proposed law, would have similar rules for unhosted STRs in residential areas, but there wouldn’t be a cap on the number of permits issued. There would, however, be a cap on the number of nights an unhosted STR could be rented per year — 90 nights altogether.

There’s a lot of other regulations proposed in this new law. Staff Writer Lauren Yates wrote about them in a story that can be seen in this past Thursday’s Enterprise and on adirondackdailyenterprise.com. Residents can also read the full proposal online at tinyurl.com/bdcnbubm.

The proposed revisions and additions to that law — which come multiple public hearings and surveys, countless meetings and at least one lawsuit later –show that elected officials have heard the public input.

The original STR law adopted by the town and village in 2020 was a stopgap measure in light of public pressure to take action, and in light of the massive, unregulated growth of the STR market. Those regulations — and the subsequent enforcement of them — were heavily criticized by both STR critics and STR owners, but they were always intended to be a foundation elected officials would later build upon.

Imposing the regulations back then was a necessary step: It gave local officials the ability, through its permit system, to gauge just how many STRs existed here while allowing code enforcement officers to ensure those STRs were adhering to certain safety standards.

These new proposed regulations are thoughtful and nuanced. They seem to take into account the concerns of residents who feel that their quality of life is being impacted by the growth of the STR market, while also recognizing the need of some residents to rent out their homes as STRs to be able to afford to continue living in Lake Placid.

These rules are years, many public and private meetings and many surveys in the making. And they just make sense.

These regulations strike as much of a balance as is possible with such a divisive issue.

They should be adopted.

If, some months down the road, the town and village find that the rules aren’t working or are doing some sort of damage, then of course they should be revised. But for now, these regulations seem right for this community. We urge the town council and village board to vote to approve these rules.

If any readers feel otherwise, or have concerns about the proposed rules that they feel should be addressed, there’s still time to weigh in. The town and village have scheduled a public hearing on the proposed rules for 6 p.m. on Nov. 29 at the Conference Center in Lake Placid.


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