Neighbors urge Amsterdam authorities to take action on Airbnb rentals
By JOHN PURCELL
Personal News Recorder
Amsterdam residents who live on a small dead end street argue that a landlord renting the basement of a house through an online service has a negative impact on the neighborhood.
Jeffrey Rosenthal, a resident of Beacon Avenue, implored the Amsterdam Joint Council on Tuesday to implement a moratorium on Airbnb and other colocation activities.
Rosenthal said the ban could be lifted once regulations are enacted to allow owners to monetize their properties through temporary rentals.
“I moved into our house some 30 years ago because it was a quiet, peaceful, dead end, residential street,” Rosenthal told council members. “Under no new code, whether it’s a B&B or an Airbnb, does it not belong to a low density residential area. It completely destroys the fabric of our community.
Several of Rosenthal’s neighbors attended the meeting that evening to show their support for his demands, with two joining him in speaking.
Rosenthal applauded the efforts of city officials to tackle the issue so far, which neighbors had asked for help to resolve ahead of the meeting. He said he wanted to make the entire city council aware of the situation.
The city’s housing inspector, Tom McQuade, reportedly informed the owner of the property that his basement did not meet code requirements to serve as housing.
The alderman of the first district Patrick Russo, who represents the district, confirmed that the owner was renting the basement and that they were ordered to cease such activities. Russo said the basement must meet additional code requirements for someone to sleep in the area, such as having adequate windows and ventilation.
Russo said in an interview on Wednesday that he was continuing to research how other communities have approached sharing housing. He said regulations should be implemented to inspect and register properties before they are listed. He added that the city would eventually need to collect an occupancy tax in addition to the county fees.
A year ago, Montgomery County lawmakers struck a deal with Airbnb, a short-term rental or leased accommodation service, allowing the company to remit taxes on hotel rooms. and motel. The deal allowed the county to collect a 4% occupancy tax on rentals booked through Airbnb, which the company collects and distributes to the municipality.
Another Beacon Street resident, David Heaton, said he grew up in Amsterdam and chose to live in the city. However, Heaton said he did not choose to live next to a “motel” in a residential area.
Heaton said his biggest concern is safety as they don’t know who the people are renting the space in the residence.
“We walk the dogs at night, and we have strangers there, passengers… we don’t know who these people are. They’re here for the night and then gone, ”Heaton said. “It’s a danger factor. We just can’t have those kinds of people in our neighborhood.
Heaton said the city’s zoning needs to be changed to prevent people from operating house-sharing services in areas like his neighborhood, which is zoned low-density residential.
Mayor Michael Villa said on Tuesday that basement rentals were already banned, but issues with Airbnb-style rentals should be further assessed before taking action.
“It’s new to us. Let the company’s lawyer digest and see what our options are, legally, as a city, ”Villa said. “We will do what we can on the advice of the lawyers of the company and the codes. We understand the issues. I know you have lived in a very nice quiet neighborhood for 40 years.
Russo said a set of rules need to be established, but he doesn’t want to stifle tourism or infringe on someone’s property rights.
“It’s a whole new thing, so it’s hard to know what to do without stopping progress in the city,” Russo said.