The Santa Clara Town Board held a public hearing last week concerning proposed Local Law No. 2 of 2022 – Regulating Short Term Rentals of Residential Properties. Residents on both sides of the short-term rental debate crowded the small, usually quiet Santa Clara Town Hall expressing their concerns. The topic pits neighbor against neighbor and property owners against the regulatory authorities.
The meeting opened with Scottie Adams, chairperson of the Town of Santa Clara Planning Board, presenting details on how and why the Planning Board arrived at the proposed law. An open discussion followed with residents expressing mixed views in favor of and opposing the proposed law. Opinions ranged from full, partial, to no support for the law. Many offered suggestions to the board with additions or removal of sections to the law.
With so much interest and opposing views, the Town of Santa Clara has extended the comment period to 5 p.m. Feb. 24. The original date for comment submissions was due prior to the public hearing. Comments should be mailed to:
Santa Clara Town Clerk
5359 State Route 30
Saranac Lake, NY 12983
A link to the proposed law can be found here.
Residents supporting the law fear without regulations, a commercialization of the town and a dramatic change to the community will escalate. Actions of short-term rentals being run by remote hosts who don’t know or care how the guests use the property were also expressed in detail.
There were also an equal number of those who opposed the proposed law, many represented by counsel. The attorneys promoted uniformity among landowners within the town and warned of potential lawsuits associated with such restrictive laws. Residents expressed concerns that they depend on short-term rental income.
It was reported there were nearly 20 letters submitted to the town but they have not been made public. The Upper Saranac Foundation (USF), as protectors of the water of Upper Saranac Lake and its watershed, did provide a written comment. USF supported those proposed parts of the Short Term Rental Law that pertain to water quality.
USF is in favor of provisions in the proposed law that address the proper size, functionality, and working order of septic systems. We believe that increased wastewater loads on outdated and, perhaps, failing septic systems have the potential to cause serious water quality problems. Historically, septic systems on our lake were installed for short-term use at small family weekend cottages. With continuous or excessive use, these fragile systems can easily be overburdened. The waste associated with faulty overused septic systems can contaminate our watershed and can contribute to the creation of harmful algal blooms.
USF and its donors have invested tremendous amounts of time and money fighting the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS). The foundation believes that the proposed Short-Term Rental Law should mandate that STR permit holders provide information, requirements, and guidelines to renters. This is the best way to ensure that renters understand how to care for the watershed. As an example, providing awareness on invasive species prevention measures would be one clear way to limit potential negative impacts of watercraft on the watershed.