At the monthly Santa Clara Town meeting, the Board approved a law regulating short-term rentals (STR) on residential property. According to town officials, Local Law No. 01 of 2023 was created to “preserve and protect the health, character, safety and general welfare of the unique rural residential property within the Town, mitigating the adverse effects of Short-Term Rentals and further addressing the welfare of Short-Term Renters.” Additionally, the law identifies that “Short-Term Rentals are recognized as a privilege, not a right.”
Vacation rentals have become increasingly popular in the Upper Saranac Lake area. Nationwide, communities like Santa Clara are in the midst of debates on the legality of such rentals, and the authority of municipalities to regulate them. With an increasing number of residents voicing concerns over noise, parking, and trash, town officials across the Adirondacks are taking notice and adapting similar laws. Concerns are aggravated by short-term rentals being run by remote hosts, purchasing homes exclusively as an investment property, never intended to be used as a family residence.
A copy of the law can be found here.https://cdn.townweb.com/townofsantaclara.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/07/JUly-2023-meeting-packet.pdf
As a voice of protection for water quality, the Upper Saranac Foundation (USF) provided the Town with input throughout the development of the law. The USF favored provisions that addressed protecting the town’s natural resources but felt that the law fell short when addressing septic systems and preventing invasive species spread.
Other nearby towns that have adopted STR laws, such as Lake Placid, have taken a more aggressive position in assuring that STR septic systems are adequately functioning and are compatible with the maximum occupancy of the rental. The Santa Clara law also missed an opportunity to include an aquatic invasive species spread prevention message in the “Good Neighbor” policy. Fortunately, following the approval of the law, the Board did allude to the possibility of expanding its outreach “town-wide” that would encourage the protection of wildlife habitat, limiting negative environmental impacts, preventing AIS spread, and safeguarding water quality.