LAKE PLACID — About 10% of all tax lots in the City of North Elba and Village of Lake Placid now have short-term vacation rentals on-site, according to Code Enforcement Officer Mike Orticelle. Data shows that the vacation rental market has grown here over the past year, and more than half of all rentals are in residential areas.
The city and village passed short-term rental regulations in March 2020 that required 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 soon after the law was passed, a lawsuit was filed against the town and village by a group of homeowners. vacation rentals. The trial “handcuffed” the city and village to make major changes to their land use code as it moves through the courts, according to village mayor Art Devlin.
The plaintiffs sought to strike down municipal regulations on short-term rentals on the grounds that the law “raped” owners’ rights. They then agreed to end their case without the ability to raise the lawsuit again in the future, lifting restrictions on the city and town’s ability to change their short-term rental regulations. Now city and town councils are considering changes to their STR regulations.
On Friday, Orticelle said his office had issued about 533 permits for STRs in the town and village — that figure includes about 20 non-compliant STRs that operate without a valid permit. Orticelle said Wednesday that the city and town’s building and planning department plans to send letters with fines to these STRs this week. He said Friday that some people have already responded to those infringement notices.
Patrick Wells, the village’s GIS mapping technician, said his information showed closer to 496 permits “with a little leeway” but that number could exclude non-compliant rentals and only include STRs with approved or pending permits. Orticelle said the count of 533 is more accurate.
Wells said according to his data at this time last year, a few months after the permit system first applied in August 2020, there were around 473 permits in the city and town. That’s about 20 new permits issued last year, and Orticelle said an influx of about two new permits, or new STRs, per month is typical.
“So it has increased, but not exponentially,” he said.
Orticelle said there were around 5,400 tax parcels “and a little change” in town and village, a number he says he got from the assessor’s office.
About 53% of the area’s short-term rentals are in residential areas, according to data from Wells. He said about 160 Village STRs were in a residential area of the Village, an area he said is split between the Hillcrest area and the Mill Pond Drive area. He said about 102 of the city’s STRs were in a residential part of town, outside the village.
The Village has slightly more licensed STRs than the City, with about 266 rentals compared to the City’s 230, according to Wells. Orticelle said there are certain areas – such as the village center and the entrance corridor – where a property can have more than one STR permit. He gave the example of the Main Street corridor: If an apartment building there becomes STR property, each apartment needs a permit.
Wells said his data showed that the village’s estimated 266 STRs occupied about 224 tax parcels, and the city’s estimated 239 rentals occupied about 194 parcels. He said areas of the town and village like Whiteface Inn, which is devoted to short-term rentals, could be the reason for the discrepancy between plots occupied by STRs and total STRs.
Orticelle said his department uses software that scavenges online rental sites like AirBnb and VRBO to find local STRs that aren’t licensed. When asked if some STRs could operate under the software radar and avoid the permit system, Orticelle said it was possible that some people could rent spaces through word of mouth or private networks without getting caught. take.
Orticelle said six complaints had been filed against STRs since last July.
Beyond the trial
The city and village operate under a common land use code, but more than a year ago amended it to allow municipalities to set separate rules when regulating STRs.
Devlin said earlier this month that the village council had changes in mind in 2020, before the start of the trial, and was set to hold public hearings on the measures – mainly protecting the neighborhoods – when the trial prevented the board from implementing these changes.
Devlin said that adding the concept of “protected neighborhoods” to the Village’s Short-Term Rental Act would prohibit short-term rentals in certain residential areas, citing Greenwood Street and Johnson Avenue as hypothetical examples.
The village council has taken no further action to regulate the STRs since the trial ended.
A discussion of STRs is on the agenda for the next virtual North Elba City Council meeting on Tuesday, February 1 at 5:30 p.m.
Town Supervisor Derek Doty has said on several occasions in the past that short-term rentals are more of a problem within the village limits than in the town 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 council when it comes to regulating the rentals in the neighborhoods located in the city, next to the village. neighborhoods.