Open Letter to Ithaca City Council Regarding Short-Term Rental Law | Letters to the Editor

Dear Ithaca City Board of Directors,

We are writing to you about the proposed short-term rental legislation ahead of the vote at your board meeting on December 13, 2021. We strongly oppose the short-term rental legislation (STR) as proposed for the reasons following. We urge you to vote against the short term rental bill which we consider excessive and unfair to retirees and homeowners who do not have the privilege of being located on the lake.

  1. Discrimination against retirees – as written, unless the owner is currently using the property as their primary residence, their property is not eligible for STR under section D3. We are both longtime residents of Ithaca who retired in 2014 – since then we have been traveling and wintering in Florida (now Florida residents). Our house at 1024 Hanshaw Road was rented out on Airbnb when we haven’t been in Ithaca for almost seven years. Short-term Airbnb rentals work best for us as they allow us to return to our Ithaca home during the fall, winter, and spring for vacations and other family events. We never had any complaints from neighbors. We don’t think your board intended to cut an income stream for Ithaca retirees, but that’s one of the consequences of the proposed short-term rental legislation.

  2. Capped day gap between lakeside and off-lake houses – We made the decision to buy the house in the Northeast when we sold our house to Belle Sherman which we had owned since 1995 in order to be close from Megan’s parents when they move to Kendal, even though we intended to become Florida residents. We typically rent for 80 to 100 days a year in all seasons. Even a 29 day limit would negatively impact our finances and banning all rentals is a huge impact! We bought the house with the idea that our part-time presence there would be financially viable through short-term rentals, just as many Lake owners do. We are advising the City of Ithaca Board of Directors in advance that the proposed settlement is fundamentally unfair and constitutes a deprivation of equal protection to give owners of non-hosted lakes 245 days while non-owners of the lake get 29 days – as well as a ban on rentals by retirees for whom the house is no longer their primary residence. In addition, it is unfair that lake owners are not subject to the proposed short-term rental provisions that: prohibit street parking, require short-term rentals to be a primary residence, and limit rentals to one. maximum of two bedrooms. Given the council’s political affiliations, we are shocked that the council is proposing legislation that so clearly favors privileged homeowners to own property on the lake and would rob the incomes of retirees like us as well as others with smaller homes. value in the city of Ithaca.

  3. Owner on site for hosted rentals – We have a secondary accommodation unit on our property with a long term rental tenant who watches our property when we are not there. We believe that the OWNER OR THE OWNER’S REPRESENTATIVE ON THE SITE is an appropriate guarantee to be qualified as hosted.

  4. Capped Occupancy – As long as a home meets the code to support its occupancy, we consider it excessive for the law to specify the number of occupants that can be in the home. It should be the owner’s prerogative to determine the number of guests on site. If this is based on the assumption that more than four guests will be loud, it is highly discriminatory. The majority of our guests are parents of Cornell students who want to give their child a weekend of family home time, adult couples getting together to visit the Finger Lakes, or young families attending. Cornell summer camps. They are looking for our house, which comfortably accommodates 8 people in beds due to its capacity.

  1. Cost and burden of enforcement – given that there are already two ordinances to deal with the main complaints of nuisance against STR, NOISE and PARKING, which are not systematically enforced, we believe that the adoption of this legislation is irresponsible and redundant. It is very clear that the already overworked City staff struggling to secure further permits, council minutes and answers to questions about water bills processed in a timely manner, will not be able to control the requirements. created by this legislation. It is also clear that the additional administrative burden would be significant – probably requiring the hiring of several additional compliance inspectors to perform the required inspections, additional administrative people to follow up each individual rental since this is mandated for reporting, defense costs. legal for challenges to unfair regulation and a financial analyst fee to analyze the past investment clause (which allows an exception period for landlords who can document the lack of return on investment made for short rentals term). During the public hearing on December 13, we ask that you be prepared to share your plan with the staff and administer this draft by-law and more specifically by how much this legislation will increase taxes for properties in the city of Ithaca. .

We understand that there are three key issues that the Commission is trying to address with this effort: 1) safety, 2) noise and nuisance, and 3) housing stock availability. However, we believe that the current legislation is not an effective solution and that it will cause unnecessary difficulties. We fully support the requirement for homes used for STRs to undergo an inspection at a reasonable interval (every 5-10 years) with a corresponding authorization process to ensure safety. Noise and nuisance ordinances already exist, so why not enforce them rather than adding more onerous regulations that will be more costly to enforce than existing laws? In our case, the proposed legislation would require us to leave our Ithaca house without rental when we left, reducing the availability of accommodation in Ithaca rather than helping it. If the key issue is to stop buying homes for the sole purpose of short-term renting, then we suggest much simpler, tighter, less expensive to administer regulations to address this issue.

We are confident that the Ithaca City Board of Directors did not intend to penalize retirees and low-value homeowners with this legislation. However, we believe that this is the net result of this complicated, costly and unfair draft regulation. We invite you to vote against.

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