Thursday, 07 March 2024 14:09

Group Takes Aim at Moran’s Proposed Short-Term Rental Regulations

The Saratoga Springs Rental Rights Alliance holds a press conference on the steps of City Hall. Photo by Jonathon Norcross. The Saratoga Springs Rental Rights Alliance holds a press conference on the steps of City Hall. Photo by Jonathon Norcross.

SARATOGA SPRINGS —In the wake of Accounts Commissioner Dillon Moran’s proposed short-term rental regulations, an opposition group called the Saratoga Springs Rental Rights Alliance (SSRRA) has been formed. In a press conference on the steps of City Hall on Monday morning, the SSRRA said the city should “slow down, stop, and think before proceeding with proposed short-term rental regulations.” 

In a statement, the group called for a reconsideration of both the proposed $1,000 biannual registration fee and the requirement that rental units be “owner occupied.” The SSRRA also supported the creation of a “cross-sectional working group to examine the proposed regulations and propose agreeable changes.”

Spokesperson Anna Smith, a local mortgage broker, told Saratoga TODAY that her group was created by a dozen or so “passionate” speakers from a city council public hearing two weeks ago. Since then, the SSRRA Facebook group has accumulated more than 400 members, and its Change.org petition opposing “rushed” short-term rental legislation collected more than 1,100 signatures.

Smith disputed Commissioner Moran’s assertion that city law renders short-term rentals illegal. “The way that [the law] reads, it does not appear to apply to actual short-term rentals,” Smith said. “It would be more of a boarding house kind of situation.”

City law defines a “rooming house” as “a single-family or two-family private residential structure, owner-occupied or under the supervision of a resident manager, in which rooms are made available to lodgers for compensation. Rooming houses shall provide lodging to people for a rental period of no less than 28 consecutive days.”

Moran has said that this law means that any rental under 28 days is not allowed. The SSRRA said in its statement that “short-term rentals are not, and have never been, illegal in the City of Saratoga Springs.”

Smith also disputed Moran’s belief that the city would be better off regulating itself rather than waiting for state-mandated regulations. “If you read the state legislation, it’s actually more lax than what Dillon Moran is proposing,” Smith said. “Right now, I would rather go with the state rules.”

Governor Kathy Hochul’s executive budget plan called for sales taxes to be collected on vacation rentals. The proposal was supported by Airbnb, but it remains to be seen if or when it will become law. According to Finance Commissioner Minita Sanghvi, Saratoga Springs does not currently collect any sales or occupancy taxes on short-term rentals.

Other local organizations, such as the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, took a more moderate stance on Moran’s proposals. In a statement, Chamber President Todd Shimkus said he agreed that short-term rentals should be subjected to some regulations, but also said that the $1,000 registration fee was too high. “[Short-term rentals] are a business and city zoning must balance the legitimate concerns of people living in residential neighborhoods where some [short-term rentals] – mostly those operated by absentee landlords – cause nuisance issues related to traffic, parking, noise, and trash,” Shimkus said.

One study from the American Economic Association, which was established in Saratoga Springs in 1885, said “there is some evidence that short-term renters can create a nuisance and disrupt year-round residents.” But Smith said that laws are already in place that “can be leaned on in that situation.”

Commissioner Moran has previously promised to address some of the public’s concerns. For now, Moran said that public hearings on short-term rentals “will remain on the agenda until we vote and conclude this matter.”

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