Letters

 

Vote FOR

11/2/18
Letter-to-the-Editor:

What if an unhosted STR opened next door to YOUR house?

What about OUR property rights?  We’re tired of seeing signs opposing the STR ordinance based on “property rights.”  Don’t WE have a right to the quiet enjoyment of the home that we bought in 1996 — in a Residential A zone?  That includes the right NOT to live next door to a hotel-by-any-other-name, with a parade of ever changing guests whose behavior we cannot effectively regulate or control.

We can’t count on the owners of unhosted STRs to be on hand to monitor and address the behavior of their guests.  Don’t bother telling us that we can always call the police.  Don’t our officers have better things to do?  What if an unhosted STR opened next door to YOUR house.  How would you feel then?  Vote FOR the STR ordinance!

Sharon and Perry Newman

Vote FOR

11/2/18
Letter-to-the-Editor:

MY property rights have already been violated. Are yours next?

Lying seems to be the new norm in our country. I believe it starts on the national level, but I see it happening on the local level, too, where big orange and white signs declare: “Protect YOUR Property Rights.” Now if YOU happen to be in the investor class or own a commercial business located in a residential zone, this sign does speak truth to you. For the rest of us, which is most of us, the sign is a lie. At least if you live in a residential zone, voting for this position would actually take away your property rights and protections, the very opposite of what is “promised.”

I bought my home in a residential neighborhood 22 years ago because I wanted to grow old with neighbors and a sense of community. I was notified if a neighbor wanted to make changes that were outside the code. I was given the option to object, before the fact. It simply never, ever occurred to me that a blatantly commercial business could move in across the street. Yet that is exactly what happened. MY property rights have already been violated. Are yours next?

I support my neighbors’ right to use their primary residence to earn income, whether renting out space as a hosted short term rental, or a long-term rental or through an approved home occupation. These are all supported in the ordinances. (More accurately, none are prohibited.) What I DO want prohibited in my residential neighborhood are whole houses being rented out to strangers, making lots of money for others, who are not only not our neighbors, they may not even live in this country. Neighborhoods are for neighbors. Neighbors are people who stay around. We want families, kids growing up down the street. We want renters and first time home buyers. We want people of all races and socio-economic groups. We want people with a variety of religious practices, including none at all. We want good schools for our children and supports for our elders. We want neighbors. We want homes, not hotels.

Please vote FOR SP Ordinances 22& 23 and restore our neighborhoods.

Louise Tate
South Portland

Vote FOR

11/2/18
Letter-to-the-Editor

…numerous instances of our signs being removed from their locations , never to be seen again, others vandalized…

I  am the sign ” Captain” for ” Neighbors For Neighborhoods”.  My duties along with assistance from other ” Neighbors For Neighborhoods ” members, is to place “Vote For The Ordinance ” signs within the confines of South Portland . On the surface it sounds like a simple but  tedious task. Unfortunately those duties have become extremely difficult and complicated as there have been numerous instances of our signs being removed from their locations , never to be seen again, others vandalized, and still some being taken off their stands and left on the ground. In one particular incident a large wooden sign was removed from it’s location, with only a small portion of the wooden stake left behind. On numerous occasions we have had to contact the police and report this and other instances.

We are a community of approximately twenty five thousand people. We are allowed to voice our varying opinions . I find it quite sad that not all respect that concept.

Barry Zuckerman
South Portland

Vote FOR

11/2/18
Letter-to-the-Editor/South Portland Sentry response:

We are your neighbors, 24/7, 100 percent for real.

John Murphy (“Don’t go by short-term rental fact sheet,” Oct. 26 letters) leveled powerful charges against Neighbors for Neighborhoods (the people asking you to vote for the city council’s ordinances). He believes our graph showing cumulative short-term rentals is a lie. In fact, it was derived from data published online by Airdna.com, culled directly from Airbnb and other short-term rental platforms. In a highly secretive rental industry, we were lucky to find trend data. We believe we have presented it honestly and that it supports our argument about the short-term rental problem at hand. Our graph is clearly labeled “Cumulative Listings” with an attribution to the source. Had we wished to lie, we could simply have eliminated “Cumulative” and the source. While cumulative listings are greater than current listings, the growth trend is explosive, either way. More than a hundred single family homes converted to hotels in our residential zones in a few short years is a big problem, and it will get rapidly worse if we do not act now.

Neighbors For Neighborhoods does not need to lie in order to make our case about un-hosted short-term rentals in our residential neighborhoods. The same can’t be said for Mr. Murphy’s group, which they ironically chose to call, “South Portland Citizens For Property Rights.” Their own fundraising report (available on the city clerk’s webpage) shows that only two of 14 reported donors are registered South Portland voters. The rest are from Cape Elizabeth, Portland, Bellingham, Washington, Manhattan Beach, California and Frankfurt, Germany. One of their two listed officers lives in Cape Elizabeth, but files PAC forms with the address of her un-hosted short-term rental. Their Facebook page is controlled from Chicago. We invite you to check our own PAC filings. We are your neighbors, 24/7, 100 percent for real.

And then, we have the problem about property rights. Mr. Murphy’s group asserts a right to commercialize their property in our residential zones. This is a right that has never existed in our zoning history. Worse, yet, they don’t attempt to gain this right for everybody. The fine print of their ad says they want to cap the number of un-hosted short-term rentals at the current number. That means new property rights for them and tough luck for all the rest of us. So whether or not you believe in their expansive view of property rights, they will get hotels and you will get nothing. Does that sound reasonable?

Peter Stanton
South Portland

Vote FOR

10/26/18
Letter-to-the-Editor,

Commercial businesses in residential neighborhoods …

It is now more than a year since the City of South Portland began its attempts to clarify and enforce the zoning and licensing ordinances in its residential neighborhoods. Still, the City Council, and those of us acting to protect the peace and safety in our neighborhoods, find ourselves besieged by a small group of individuals, the majority of whom live and vote in another town or state. They fulminate at council meetings about imaginary property rights, and are fighting both the current and proposed ordinances that would halt the operation of whole house short-term rentals in our residential neighborhoods.

Rentals of less than 30 days are not permitted in South Portland’s residential zones, according to Sec.14-91 and Sec. 27-136 of our Municipal Code. Unfortunately, there are those who refuse to accept that they are running commercial businesses in residential neighborhoods, in clear violation of our Code, and are converting entire homes into unlicensed mini-hotels. The fact that they pay a 9% commercial lodging tax to the State of Maine is, apparently, lost on them.

On November 6, South Portland voters have the opportunity to reclaim our residential neighborhoods. In voting FOR THE ORDINANCES, you will ensure that the actual property rights and expectations of homeowners in residential neighborhoods are upheld, and we can again appreciate how lucky we are to have real neighbors.

Georgia Deveres
South Portland

Vote FOR

10/27/18
Letter-to-the-Editor:

Investors are buying houses …

Please vote FOR the South Portland short-term rental ordinances on November 6th.

* They allow hosted short-term rentals in up to 3 bedrooms with 6 guests.

* They allow owners to rent out their home unhosted for 2 weeks per year.

* Rentals of 30 days or longer have no limitations.

Investors are buying houses – not to live in, not to rent to long-term renters, but to create unhosted hotels in our residential zoned neighborhoods. Through sites like Airbnb, STR’s in South Portland have increased by 45% in just the past year.

Ask yourself if you would want to have a hotel or multiple hotels, with no management on the premises next door to your home. Gone are the neighbors that will watch out for each other, shovel out an elderly neighbor, have kids going to school & playing sports –  connections that are the fabric of our neighborhoods.

“Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got “till it’s gone?” – Joni Mitchell

Roberta Zuckerman
South Portland

10/22/18
Letter-to-the-Editor

It’s time for just the facts.

  • In residential zones, the ordinance bans short-term rentals (fewer than 30 days) that are unhosted (non-owner-occupied).
  • If the house is not owner-occupied, all rentals must be 30 days or longer.
  • The ordinance would allow many continued and new uses of your property, including two weeks of unhosted short-term stays per household, per year.
  • The ordinance would allow unlimited number of hosted short-term stays. That is, if you live in the house, you may rent out a room or portion as an STR at any time. This includes up to 3 bedrooms and 6 people.
  • Long-term rentals are also still allowed, of course.

Want to rent out your whole house for a year or a summer while you live somewhere else? As long as the rental contract is at least 30 days, that’s allowed. Renting out an investment property as a long-term rental? Of course! And if you’re in a commercial zone, unhosted short-term rentals are allowed.

As you can see, the ordinances are constructed to limit unhosted short-term rentals (Airbnb-style, fewer than 30 days) in residential zones. Long terms rentals would still be allowed.

Limiting the non-owner-occupied rentals to at least 30 days protects neighbors and neighborhoods from unwanted noise, disruption, constant strangers, and the turning of our neighborhoods into mini-hotel districts.

Suggesting that the city is “taking” your property rights is a scare tactic and holds no truth. It has never been allowed in residential zones to run lodging establishments or hotels, but the original zoning was written well before the new economy and Airbnb existed. New language is needed to strengthen and clarify what is allowed in residential zones.

Please vote for our neighborhoods and for the ordinances on Nov 6th!

Amy Haskin
South Portland

Vote FOR

10/18/18
Letter-to-the-Editor,

Show you care about the character and conditions in our neighborhoods.

Short Term Rentals (STRs) in South Portland aren’t just happening around Willard Beach, Meetinghouse Hill or Ferry Village. Other neighborhoods in Pleasantdale, Highland Avenue, Thornton Heights, and more, are ripe for the picking.

Given the chance, they too will be eaten up one bite at a time by overzealous “investors” who see the essential spirit of our neighborhoods as theirs for the taking, without reservation, and without regard for the people living next door. These un-hosted STRs are eroding the essential core of our community – the year-round participation in our schools, churches, civic groups, and the cherished practice of neighbor helping neighbor.

On Nov. 6th South Portland voters will have a chance to protect the rights and opportunities for year-round homeowners and renters. It’s your chance to show you care about the character and conditions in our neighborhoods. Vote FOR the Referendum question regarding Short Term Residential Rentals.

Peggy Fuller
South Portland