Rental owners unfairly blamed

In the discussion surrounding regulation of home sharing in Lake Placid and North Elba, one notion is clear and unambiguous: People love and treasure this area.

As the Daily Enterprise has reported, there also is widespread agreement that some regulations of short-term rentals are appropriate to ensure that property owners who engage in home sharing do so safely and responsibly, and that they support the enforcement of these regulations through licensing and permit fees.

There is, it seems, more than enough common ground on which to construct sensible regulations that protect the community’s interests, welcome visitors, punish miscreants and generate additional revenue to pay for the services of those who enforce the rules and keep people safe.

What’s troubling is the undercurrent in some public comments and online forums that those of us who must work or live elsewhere most of the time but have invested in the local community are to blame for high real estate prices and a perceived loss of community cohesion, and that establishing punitive regulations that limit visitor choices will be a step toward solving these issues.

The truth is, as is common with many tourist destinations, many homeowners have a second home in Lake Placid and North Elba, and have been renting their properties on a short-term basis for generations. The difference now is that instead of advertising only with real estate agents or relying on word of mouth, people have websites to help connect them with prospective guests. The owner who has a second home in Lake Placid is still helping the community by maintaining their property, paying taxes and bringing business to local contractors, housekeepers, caretakers and shops and restaurants in Lake Placid.

The word “predatory” has been used. Predatory implies an exploitation of an individual, or intention to injure competitors by unfair means. We are homeowners who care about our homes, have in many cases restored our properties and work hard to maintain them. Renters use our property by free choice with many other options at their disposal. We have meaningful and personal interactions with many of our guests who become repeat customers that value our knowledge of the local area. We care about the community of Lake Placid and will work with the town to maintain the peaceful existence of short-term rentals, which are part of the thriving economic engine of the Lake Placid community.

We do not minimize the concerns about housing affordability and loss of community. The Daily Enterprise astutely observed that the discussion surrounding short-term rental regulations is a good time for interested parties who are united by their affection for Lake Placid and North Elba to pursue further discussion and negotiation, with parties representing various points of view. We don’t see evidence of a direct correlation between affordable housing and short-term rentals in Lake Placid.

Restricting the ability of any homeowner to participate in the home-sharing economy will have an effect on the local housing market and government finances in a detrimental way. People who count on supplemental income from home sharing to stay in their homes will lose that option, resulting in a loss of property tax revenue that supports local schools and local government services. This would be very harmful to the entire community.

We can all reasonably come to terms on short-term rental regulations that satisfy a broad range of community objectives, and in doing so may identify pathways to solve the very real challenges confronting Lake Placid and North Elba.

If the problem is nuisance behavior, address the behavior. If cars are parked where they don’t belong, ticket them. These issues can be effectively addressed and resolved through the proposed new permit system and its fair enforcement.

We wish to work with the town and village to maintain the peace and preserve the sense of tranquility that the name of the village implies.

Huda Scheidelman owns homes in Wappingers Falls and Lake Placid. Gold Medal Hospitality describes itself as “a group of homeowners and local business owners who wish to protect the interests of short-term rentals in Lake Placid and North Elba while also contributing and giving back to the community of Lake Placid in a positive and meaningful way.”