Following a July 11 public hearing on short-term rentals, the Town of Hempstead board voted unanimously to prohibit leasing arrangements lasting less than 28 days.
Short-term rentals are, “threatening the character of our residential communities” and “raising serious health and safety concerns,” Town Supervisor Anthony Santino said during a press event announcing the legislation last month.
More than a dozen residents from the Point Lookout and Lido Beach communities attended the meeting, calling short-term rentals a commercial undertaking that doesn’t belong in residential districts. Others added that short-term renters often use the properties for loud parties, take up limited available parking, and put a strain on their communities’ infrastructure. “Sanitation workers collect typically three times the amount of garbage from a rental,” said Pearl Jacobs, president of the Nostrand Gardens Civic Association.
Residents who attended the meeting from Elmont, Levittown, Hempstead, Garden City, and Roosevelt, however, argued that short-term rentals give homeowners the opportunity to generate more income after paying high property taxes. “I own a house by myself and pay a mortgage by myself,” said Richard Alexander of Roosevelt. “[Renting my apartment on] Airbnb gives me just a little bit more breathing room to pay the electric bill, the mortgage and live a normal life.” Alexander added that there should be renting regulations, but a blanket ruling wouldn’t work for everyone.
“There are very compelling issues on both sides, but the biggest consideration for me is the safety issue,” Trustee Bruce Blakeman said. “We are a town of neighborhoods, and we know who is in our neighborhoods.” Blakeman gave an example of a young girl in his neighborhood who came home from school but her parents were detained and weren’t home to greet her. The girl knew and trusted that there were people in her neighborhood she could stay with until her parents returned home. “Having transients in our neighborhoods I think is very troubling,” he said.
Several town residents, including Maria Aramanda, asked if the town conducted any type of study showing that short-term renters had threatened residents’ safety. Town Attorney Joseph Ra responded, “We have internal information. You can FOIL it,” referring to the state’s Freedom of Information Law.
Town officials said last month that its building department would be monitoring home rental websites like Home Away, VRBO and Airbnb for those who advertise rentals for fewer than 28 days. The town will be issuing $1,000 summons for first-time offenders.
Prior to the public hearing, the town board also voted to lower the renewal fee for rental permits to from $450 to $200.
Trustee Erin King Sweeney, who represents Lido Beach, Point Lookout and other south shore areas, attended two community meetings to discuss the short-term rental issue with constituents. None of other trustees responded when asked if they had been in touch with their constituents about the matter.
Susan Trenkle-Pokalsky, the town’s press secretary, said that because the new ruling must to be filed with the state, the town would not begin issuing summonses to offenders until after August 1.