By Nadine Cafaro
The Walden Village Board has introduced and discussed a new short term rental local law for several meetings, and now they’re debating if it’s even worth the time.
Short term rentals are something that aren’t currently regulated in Walden, so the board brought up a potential law to fix the issue. Village of Walden Attorney David Donovan used the Village of Goshen’s established short term rental local law to introduce the concept to the board. The idea and purpose of the law is to regulate short term rentals by providing certain restrictions to increase the protection and safety of residents. Short term rental examples include Air BnBs and VRBO.
Donovan has made it clear that ultimately it is up to the village board, and he’ll be fine with whatever decision they make. “This is your local law. So whatever you think is in the best interest of the village is what I’m happy to put on paper,” Donovan stated.
However, from the beginning, village trustees questioned how the building department would be able to enforce these restrictions. This hasn’t really changed.
“My biggest concern is the enforcement of all of this. I don’t see how we can enforce this as integrated with the amount of staff we have in our building department,” said Trustee Lynn Thompson.
Thompson also brought up the already operating short term rentals in Walden, questioning if they knew where they were or if there were any rules.
“I think the answer is no. We already have an issue with illegal rentals and all kinds of other things. I just see a lot of questions surrounding this and I appreciate the work that’s gone into it, but I think we really need to tighten this up quite a lot,” Thompson noted.
Trustee Patricia Maher brought up specific sections that she thought would be difficult to enforce. “‘305.85: Section five: notarized statement that the short term rental property is owner occupied for more than 50 percent of the year.’ I mean, that’s just gonna be so hard to enforce. I guess that’s just saying, sign a piece of paper [while] putting in good faith. Or is someone going to enforce that?”
Maher also had more questions about the law. “Are we going to restrict this to certain residential areas? Are we going to limit the percentages of short term rentals that we’re going to allow in our village?”
Trustee Becky Pearson, who originally showed concerns for enforcement, offered to create a committee to further discuss this law. She also brings up all the documentation they would need in order to enforce the law as well as the purpose being weak.
“There needs to be more of a purpose written for me,” said Pearson.
Deputy Mayor Willie Carley was curious where this law came from and agreed that enforcement would be incredibly difficult. He also questioned why they couldn’t just follow AirBnB guidelines.
“Why not just say the Village of Walden can only have Air BnBs and we have to follow that AirBnB law, and that’s it?”
Both Trustee Brian Sebring and Mayor John Ramos also agreed with enforcement issues. Ramos further asked about inspections, violations, fines, etc.
The committee currently consists of Pearson, Thompson and possibly someone from the building department. Pearson, however, wanted to make it clear the board was at least a little interested in this law so it was feasible for the committee if it doesn’t go through.
“I don’t want to spend hours and hours and hours going over this and each item,” said Pearson.
Ramos told the committee to come back with more information for the board.