Notes to All

REMARKS TO CITY COUNCIL 10/2/18

When they go to the polls on November 6, the people of South Portland will be asked to vote on ordinances governing short-term rentals in our residential neighborhoods. If it’s true that laws are like sausages in that it’s better not to see them being made, this particular sausage has been a long time in the making—about one whole calendar year—and that sausage-making has sometimes ground away at the spirit and good humor of our community.

But we’re almost there. We’re a group of dozens of your neighbors who join City Council in supporting these ordinances, in urging our fellow citizens to vote FOR them on November 6, that is, to vote FOR the future of amicable short-term renting in South Portland. We call ourselves Neighbors FOR Neighborhoods. Our yard signs are starting to appear in your neighborhood. You can find us on facebook, or on the web at neighborsforneighborhoods.org.

It’s worth pointing out that after all the talking and petitioning and reconnoitering of the last year, the ordinances we’re asking people to vote FOR on November 6 are a far cry from being anti-short-term rental, even in our residential zones. The ordinances are particularly generous to our neighbors who are willing to remain in their homes as they rent out space in them. That is, the ordinances are generous to neighbors who remain neighbors, even as they operate short-term rentals in their homes. We support that generosity: All we are saying is live where you rent. So HOSTED rentals are permitted by the ordinances. A vote FOR the ordinances is a vote FOR allowing and enabling hosted STRs.

The ordinances on November’s ballot also allow any SoPo homeowner in a residential zone to rent his or her property short-term for as many as two weeks a year without being on the premises. This in response to neighbors who wanted to recoup expenses while they were away on vacation.

And of course the ordinances do nothing at all to curtail long-term rentals—that is, those lasting 30 days or longer. Nor do they interfere in any way with conducting short-term rentals in areas of the city that aren’t zoned “residential.”

It’s important to stress that the only kind of short-term rentals the ordinances disallow in residential neighborhoods are those that are UNHOSTED, that is, those where the owner of the property chooses not to remain on the property, in the neighborhood, during the rental. That’s it. And that’s a position that we’re finding most people in South Portland agree with. If you’re one of those people, or if you have questions, we invite you to visit us at: neighborsforneighborhoods.org.

But if you’ve been, at one time or another, on the other side of this controversy we invite you to join with us, too, in campaigning FOR these ordinances. After a long spring and summer of discontent here’s a chance for all of us to win, and in the process to knit ourselves back together after some unraveling discord. The ordinances do endorse and ratify most of what “the other side” sought when all this started. We invite you to join us in a handshake and a restoration of better feeling and a victory for all the people of South Portland.

You’re our neighbors, too. Let’s win together.

Jeff Steinbrink,
President
Neighbors For Neighborhoods