Airbnb battle at Red Hook in the Hudson Valley escalates

Robert McKeon, City Supervisor, Town of Red Hook (The Town of Red Hook New York, iStock / Illustration by Steven Dilakian for The Real Deal)

A small town in the Hudson Valley serves as a microcosm of the larger issue of government intervention in short-term rentals.

The city of Red Hook is considering a debate over imposing more regulations on the short-term rental market, which would affect Airbnb hosts in the area, the Times Union reported. The city recently proposed a law requiring all short-term rentals to be registered for a permit and restrict rentals to primary residences.

Homeowners who receive a permit – for a fee – can either rent secondary accommodation or their primary residence.

Under the proposed law, short-term rentals in residential areas would be allowed for up to 30 days at a time, according to the Times Union. Outside of residential areas, there would be no limit to the length of a short term rental stay.

Supporters of the bill have expressed concern about the character of the city. Opponents, however, believe there is no problem without the law and want to ensure that there are enough short-term rentals available for visitors, which could in turn fuel the rest of the l local economy.

“We found no evidence that short-term rentals erode neighborhoods,” said Kristina Dousharm, Chair of the Economic Development Committee.

City supervisor Robert McKeon reportedly disagreed, saying instead that the legislation would help prevent people from coming from out of town and turn properties into short-term rentals before they disappear.

Red Hook is just one of many cities in upstate New York that are considering similar debates over short-term rentals, the Times Union noted.

Woodstock issues a limited number of permits for short term rentals. Rhinebeck issues 15 permits per year through a lottery system and limits stays to 16 days. The city of Milan also enforces the use of primary residences, although stays of 90 days are permitted as long as there is a break between rentals.

However, the need for short term rentals may be keenly felt at Red Hook. The city’s proximity to Bard College allows residents to accommodate families and potential students. There is also only one commercial accommodation business in Red Hook – and it is closed for renovations.

The Times Union reported that a city council meeting is scheduled for December 14, when the public hearing period ends. No date for voting on the bill has been set.

[Times Union] – Holden Walter Warner

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