Residents weigh in on short-term rental proposal | New
NARRAGANSETT, RI — A seven-day minimum stay is just part of a proposed short-term rental ordinance that was first released Tuesday in Narragansett.
The draft prepared for the city council to consider at a workshop – in which the public had a chance to weigh in – would also ban on-street parking, limit the number of tenants per room and require that a landlord or an officer responds to complaints. within 60 minutes.
Supporters, including Councilman Ewa Dzwierzynski, said the measure is designed to slow the proliferation of Airbnb-style rentals in the city that have driven families away year-round.
“It took a long time to prepare,” Dzwierzynski said. Many residents, they say, have lamented the loss of the “neighborhood” feel of their community as more and more homes are used by occupants who only stay a few days.
Dzwierzynski and a task force researched short-term rental orders locally and nationally.
“None of these languages are new,” she said. Westerly, for example, has a minimum rental order of 28 days. Newport is 30 days.
“Jamestown too. When you look at other coastal communities, many of them are taking action just to take back their communities,” she said.
Warwick is also considering banning all short-term rentals except those from owner-occupiers.
State law now requires online short-term rental transactions to register with the state’s Department of Business Regulation. The state’s short-term rental registry went live Tuesday, the same day Narragansett began discussions about new regulations.
Critics said the council needed to look into the matter further, with several saying the order as presented is “a solution in search of a problem”.
Year-round resident Steve DeSimone said he plans to rent his house for a three-day weekend and take his family on vacation. The law as written would prevent that, he said.
“I think you are wrong to take away my property rights because you are unhappy with the way some people are managing their properties,” he said.
George Nonis, president of the local Narragansett 2100 group, which represents tenants and landlords, split the draft ordinance. He called the proposal overkill and anti-business.
“We don’t hear anything about small businesses. We hear about more regulation,” Nonis said. “Do you have any data? Have you talked to landlords, have you talked to small businesses in town? I don’t think I heard that.
They also fear the current council will try to push through an ordinance before next month’s election, although council members have said the process is far from over.
“We’re open to thoughts and ideas and maybe we’ll make some changes,” Councilor Deborah Kopech said. She called the ordinance an attempt to create a structure and rules that the whole city could follow.
“Something needs to be done as super short term rentals have taken over every neighborhood in this city and our local laws have not been changed to reflect it,” she said.
Patrick Murray, who is running for a state Senate seat, said his initial goal was to target homes with six, eight or more bedrooms where 10 or 15 people “hang out” each night.
“I think high-end accommodations, with more bedrooms, should be limited because they’re not owner-occupied,” he said.
Building official Wayne Pimental said the ordinance would allow the city to determine whether rooms in a unit are legal or not.
“We have a lot of residences in town where rooms are not legal,” he said. “Basically, they’re for going out or parking. This order would remedy that.
It would set a limit of two people per room, with exceptions for children two and under.
Pimental said the city receives complaints that a unit has too many occupants and insufficient parking. The street parking ban aims to address this problem, he said.
The proposed fines are $500 per day for the first offense and $1,000 per day for a second offence. A rental house would have its registration revoked after the third violation.
Council Chairman Jesse Pugh said the city needs to look at the purpose of an ordinance and suggested the city determine a “healthy number” for short-term rentals, cap it at that amount, and grandfather at the existing owners.
Others who want to rent their homes short-term would be placed on a waiting list, he said.
“Narragansett has always been a vacation rental community,” Pugh said. “What has changed is the way properties have been managed and booked.”