2018-01-19 / Letters

Address under-regulated short-term rentals

To the editor:

As a father of a young daughter, current renter and prospective homeowner in South Portland, I am watching the current discussion surrounding the regulation of short-term rentals very carefully. Decision-makers must pay attention to the acute impacts that an under-regulated short-term rental economy can have on our housing stock and community identity.

First, allowing for non-owner occupied units to be stripped from the rental market by absentee housing speculators will reduce the supply of traditional rental units. We know that reduced supply invariably leads to increased cost. At a time where rents are already climbing to Portlandlike levels, loose regulations of short-term rentals will undoubtedly drive (or keep) away young families, seniors aging in place and our neighbors with functional needs: all populations that greatly contribute to the diverse fabric of our society.

Next, the lack of cohesiveness and continuity that non-owner occupied short-term rentals bring to our neighborhoods is also troubling. Just when we should be fostering safety and stability through greater community engagement and cooperation, the transience that mini hotels will bring to our neighborhoods is, at best, counterproductive.

Finally, our representatives in city hall should consider that if the data allows, responsible regulations can always be revisited once our housing market inevitably cools off. Allowing for the rampant proliferation of short term rentals at the outset, then finding dire action is necessary after it’s too late, is reckless and short-sighted. A thoughtful, community-centric approach is what we need at this time.

Jason J. Shedlock South Portland

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