2018-07-27 / Letters

Neighborhood hotel?

To the editor:

Do you want to have a hotel with no management on the premises open up next to your home in a residential zone?

It’s a question residents of South Portland need to ask ourselves.

While short-term rentals have long been around on a limited basis, they have mushroomed through internet sites such as Airbnb and vrbo, into a phenomenon that’s been spreading like wildfire in recent years, threatening the fabric of our neighborhoods.

Investors (some are corporations like Sotheby, people from Washington state and even Singapore) are buying up anywhere from one to five homes and renting them out to a revolving door of short-term customers in our residentially zoned neighborhoods.

The South Portland City Council has spent almost a year having extensive workshops and council meetings, all open for public comment on the issue. The council just passed its second version of ordinances to regulate short-term rentals.

Now the investor/owners, for the second time, are paying people to collect signatures to override the ordinance or send it to referendum. Please don’t sign their petition.

The council has already made numerous changes to the ordinances during this long process to make it more acceptable to people who want to do short-term rentals in their primary residence. The investor/owners want to keep their cash-cow businesses at the expense of our neighborhoods. The benefits of having “neighbors” is based on having ongoing relationships where we look out for each other and help each other out. It supports seniors being able to age in place and allows children to have a sense of community at home and at school. It’s something you can’t put a price tag on, as Joni Mitchell sang “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘till it’s gone.”

Roberta Zuckerman South Portland

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