LAKE PLACID — About 10% of all tax packages in the city of North Elba and the village of Lake Placid now have short-term vacation rentals on site, according to Code Enforcement Officer Mike Orticelle. Data shows that the holiday rental market here has grown over the past year and that more than half of all rentals are in residential areas.
The town and village passed short-term rental rules in March 2020 requiring owners of short-term vacation rentals in the area to be licensed. Lawmakers wanted the regulations to be a starting point they would build on later, but shortly after the law was passed, a lawsuit was filed against the town and village by a group of vacation home owners. the lawsuit “cuffed” the town and village to make major changes to their land use code as it went through the courts, according to village mayor Art Devlin.
The plaintiffs sought to annul the municipalities’ short-term rental schemes on the grounds that the law “violated” the rights of property owners. They later agreed to discontinue their case with no opportunity to re-initiate the lawsuit in the future, lifting restrictions on the city and village’s ability to change their short-term rental regulations. Now city and village councils are exploring changes to their STR regulations.
On Friday, Orticelle said his office had issued about 533 permits for STRs in the city and town — that figure includes about 20 non-compliant STRs operating without a valid permit. Orticelle said on Wednesday that the city and village’s Construction and Planning Department planned to send letters of fines to those STRs this week. He said Friday that some people have already responded to those violations.
Village GIS mapping technician Patrick Wells said his information indicated closer to 496 permits “with a little leeway” but that number may not include non-compliant rentals and only VAKs with approved or pending permits. Orticelle said the count of 533 is more accurate.
Wells said that according to his data from last year around this time, a few months after the permit system was first applied in August 2020, there were about 473 permits in the town and village. That’s about 20 new permits issued in the past year, and Orticelle said an influx of about two new permits, or new VAKs, per month is typical.
“So it has grown, but not exponentially”, he said.
Orticelle said there are about 5,400 tax packages “and some change” in town and village, a number he said he got from the appraiser’s office.
According to Wells data, approximately 53% of short-term rentals in the area are in residential areas. He said about 160 STRs in the village are located in a residential area in the village, a zone he believes is divided between the Hillcrest area and the Mill Pond Drive area. He said about 102 of the city’s STRs are located in a residential area of the city, outside the village.
The village has slightly more permitted STRs than the city, according to Wells, with about 266 rental properties compared to 230 in the city. Orticelle said there are some areas – such as the village center and the gateway corridor – where one residence can have more than one STR permit. He gives the corridor on Hoofdstraat as an example: If an apartment building there becomes a STR building, each apartment needs a permit.
Wells said his data showed that the village’s estimated 266 STRs occupy about 224 tax lots, and the city’s estimated 239 rental properties occupy about 194 lots. He said areas in the city and town, such as Whiteface Inn, which is dedicated to short-term rentals, could be the reason for the discrepancy between STR-occupied lots and total STRs.
Orticelle said his division uses software that searches online rental sites such as AirBnb and VRBO to find local STRs that are not allowed. When asked whether some STRs could operate under the software’s radar and avoid the licensing system, Orticelle said there’s a possibility some people could rent out spaces through word of mouth or private networks without getting caught.
Orticelle said six complaints have been filed against STRs since July last year.
Looking beyond the lawsuit
The town and village operate under a common land use code, but more than a year ago they amended it so that the municipalities can create separate rules when regulating STRs.
Earlier this month, Devlin said the village board had changes in mind for 2020 before the lawsuit began, and was ready to hold public hearings on the measures — primarily protecting neighborhoods — when the lawsuit prevented the board from going through those changes. feed.
Devlin said that adding the concept of “protected neighbourhoods” the village’s short-term rent law would prohibit short-term renting in certain residential areas, citing Greenwood Street and Johnson Avenue as hypothetical examples.
The village government has taken no further action to regulate STRs since the end of the lawsuit.
A discussion on STRs is on the agenda for the next virtual meeting of the Northern Elba City Council on Tuesday, February 1, at 5:30 PM
City supervisor Derek Doty has said several times in the past that short-term rentals are a bigger problem within the village limits than in the city outside the village. He said earlier this month that he supports the village’s desire to preserve its neighborhoods for long-term residents, and he expects the city council to work with the village government when it comes to regulating rent in neighborhoods across the city, in addition to village neighborhoods.