Kendall residents speak out for and against proposals to regulate short-term rentals

By Tom Rivers, Editor Published on January 11, 2023 at 09:51

KENDALL – City Council has heard from residents and landlords who are in favor or against proposed regulations for short-term rentals, such as Airbnbs and Vrbo.

The council held a public hearing Tuesday evening, with at least 125 people attending the nearly 2-hour meeting in the high school auditorium.

Some of the stakeholders would like to see the city work with owners of short-term rentals without passing new regulations. The city can regulate sites through existing codes for property maintenance, noise and garbage collection, some of the speakers said.

The city is proposing legislation that would not allow any new short-term rentals in waterfront neighborhoods north of the Lake Ontario State Parkway. Existing tenancies would be grandfathered and allowed to continue. Kendall officials said there were eight to 10 such rentals in that area.

Citywide Kendall is proposing a $1,000 annual license fee with the city for rentals and wants to require those landlords to have $3 million in liability insurance.

Kendall city officials are welcoming about 125 people to a public hearing Tuesday night at the school’s auditorium. The form pictured at left includes Planning Board Chairman Bruce Newell, Councilwoman Barb Flow, Councilwoman Margaret Lynn Szozda, City Supervisor Tony Cammarata, Attorney Henry Zomerfeld and Councilman Paul Jennings.

Paul Nau, owner of Lake Runner Charters for 37 years, keeps his boat at Bald Eagle Marina and brings in clients for charters for 77 days. About 90% of its customers come from out of state and stay in STRs. Almost all are middle-aged or older. They’re just looking to relax, to enjoy a lakeside getaway. They frequent local restaurants.

If short-term rentals close due to higher operating costs, Nau said he will have to relocate to Niagara County.

“Kendall is a beautiful area,” he said. “Bald Eagle is one of the best marinas on the lake.”

The manager of the Lures restaurant at the marina also said the STR regulations would hurt Lures with accommodation rentals, making this business even more difficult as it breaks away from Covid restrictions and staff shortages.

Jason Manchester of Lomond Shores is president of a homeowners association where residents live among 6 short-term rentals. He said residents there complain little about STRs. Sometimes someone drives a golf cart down the road or speeds it up, or a dog gets loose. Issues are resolved between neighbours, without involving the city or law enforcement, Manchester said.

“Be neighbours,” he said. “Talk to your people. We have no problem.

Josh Brusso of Kenmore Road said the $1,000 fee looked like a “cash grab” from the city. He said some of the complaints about passengers in STRs are also common among residents year-round – speeding, setting off fireworks, trespassing.

He fears that the regulations will drive up the costs of STRs.

“Let’s try to keep it affordable so it’s not just for the elites,” he said.

Lydia Richardson, deputy city clerk, urged city council to delay passing bylaws to allow more time for paperwork regarding complaints and other issues to be filed with the city. Currently, petitions are filed for and against the regulations. Richardson said some have accused city council members of having a personal stake in the issue because they live near short-term rentals. She wants the city to be protected in the event of a legal challenge to a conflict of interest.

Some of the residents spoke out in favor of the law, saying that having STRs as neighbors increases their home insurance costs. They said some of the STRs are noisy, especially at night when owners want peace and quiet after working in town.

“I want a quiet street and not be surrounded by STRs,” said one resident. “I’m afraid the whole street will become STRs.”

Several residents said they didn’t think STRs were allowed on one-lane private roads. City code does not allow companies on these roads, where residents pool their resources to have the snow cleared and the roads maintained. Some of the residents of these roads have said that having STRs exposes everyone on the road to liability if a passing resident is injured in an accident. They could sue residents over road maintenance, a resident said.

About 20 of the rental landlords have come together to hire a lawyer to oppose the city’s proposed settlements. The audience has limited speakers to 3 minutes. So a dozen landowners took turns reading a response prepared by attorney Steven Barshov of Sive, Paget & Riesel in New York.

Some city council members live close to the STRs. Those board members should declare their conflict of interest and recuse themselves from the city’s discussion and any votes on the matter, Barshov said.

He said there were several “flaws” with the settlements, including a conflict with Kendall’s overall plan and the local waterfront revitalization plan of Kendall, Yates & Carlton.

Kendall’s cottages and second homes were rented long before “the computerized marketing platforms of VRBO and Airbnb”. Owners used to use newspapers and more traditional forms of advertising to market the sites, he said.

“So the whole basis of the proposed local laws – that ‘short-term rentals’ are something new or new to Kendall – is totally wrong,” Barshov wrote in an 8-page letter to the city council.

He also said it was “irrational” to single out airbnbs, VRBOs and other short-term rentals and allow bed and breakfasts because these are owner-occupied. Kendall suggests that short-term rentals have a responsible caretaker on call if the landlord doesn’t live in Kendall. Barshov said it was a reasonable and not objectionable requirement.

City Supervisor Tony Cammarata presides over a public hearing where speakers were limited to 3 limits. The hearing was delayed about 10 minutes due to a line of people waiting to register and enter the school auditorium. About 125 people attended the hearing which lasted approximately 1 hour 40 minutes.

The city’s property maintenance codes already address issues with poorly maintained structures and do not require regulation of STRs, Barshov said.

The $1,000 annual license fee is “absurd,” he said. These fees and the $3 million liability insurance are meant to entice people to shut down their STRs or not consider starting them as businesses, he said.

Barshov questioned other provisions of the bylaw, including a two-person limit per bedroom, sprinkler systems above the second floor of buildings used as STRs, and a ban on parking recreational vehicles, campsites -cars, trailers or motor vehicles weighing more than one tonne. pickup.

“The character of a neighborhood is not destroyed by occupants of short-term rental properties doing exactly what residential property can do,” Barshov wrote. “Again, the requirement is imposed on STRs that are less appealing to users.”

Barshov also said the city council misrepresented the issues with STRs, portraying an “STR warzone” that does not exist. There are only a few isolated incidents and none are “malicious”, he said.

“There are no reports of widespread misconduct or anything like that at STR properties,” he wrote.

The attorney noted that the Orleans County Planning Board had been overwhelming in recommending against the regulations last month. He wants more time to get feedback from board members at that Dec. 22 meeting so they can be included in Kendall’s official filing. He urged the city not to rush the process and to keep the public hearing open.

Cammarata, the city supervisor, said comments would be accepted until the end of the business day Friday. These comments may be filed or submitted to the City Clerk.

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