Opinion - Saratoga Springs Politics

The below blog posts are written by John Kaufmann.
These opinions do not reflect the views of Saratoga TODAY newspaper.

Monday, 04 March 2024 10:29

Short-Term Rental Proposed Legislation: Another Poorly Thought Out Proposal

By John Kaufmann | Saratoga Springs Politics

Saratoga Springs Accounts Commissioner Dillon Moran has proposed legislation establishing a registry for short-term rentals (STR) in the city.

I am very much in support of the need for the city to establish reasonable controls over STRs. There are issues of city liability, the safety of renters, the potential negative impacts of poorly managed rentals, and its potential impact on the rental and home sales market.

Unfortunately, this proposed legislation represents a pattern with Commissioner Moran of taking a basically well-intentioned idea and failing to take seriously the need to rigorously go through the less dramatic work of scrupulously crafting the legislative language required for success.

Moran’s approach is to throw together legislation relying on pushback by the public and potential legal challenges to refine it.

Moran was able to pull off his outdoor dining program because he was basically giving away public property to restaurants and bars that would not raise objections to his plans. I FOILed for any city documents related to how he arrived at his fees for this and was advised that no such documents existed.

With STRs, his cavalier methods have run into reality checks from affected constituencies.

As just one example of how poorly thought out his legislation is, under “Definitions” item 1.j:

“Unhosted short term rental” means the owner will not be present on the short term rental premises for the entire duration it is being rented. or will not be, at a maximum twenty-five (25) minutes (JK: my emphasis) from the short term rental premices during the duration it is being rented.

STR Item 1.j

I am not sure who (or if) the attorney who reviewed this was, but I was told by an attorney that travel time is never used in this context. The proximity of something is always measured by distance. Using time as a measure would make determining the validity of an application nearly impossible.

Similarly, the registration fee of $1,000.00 was arbitrary and inappropriate as numerous people have pointed out. This approach failed to consider the difference between a landlord with a large house who expects to frequently rent their property and someone briefly renting a room. Moran is now reconsidering the fees, but something as obvious as this should have been dealt with during the crafting of the legislation.

Moran defends all this by assuring people that all of this will be worked out over time. Now I grant that no legislation is perfect and that invariably it will evolve over time, but a legislator has the obligation to minimize the need for such changes. It is unfair to expect the public to correct obvious errors.

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