CAMDEN — The Town of Camden wants hard data — not industry estimates — of how many property owners are using their homes as short term rentals; therefore, a proposed ordinance is to appear on the June Town Meeting warrant asking voters to approve the requisite registration of un-hosted short term rental properties.
“The point is to count them,” said board member Alison McKellar, in the wake of comments from residents skeptical of the need for the proposed language.
The proposed ordinance came before the Select Board at its April 6 regularly schedule meeting, along with two other proposed ordinances to get placed on the June Town Meeting warrant (outdoor storage of boats and tradesman shops to be allowed in Coastal Residential and amending the town’s zoning map so that the town-owned wastewater plant lot is not split between two zones).
McKellar noted that the topic of short-term rental housing, its proliferation in Camden and the broader Midcoast, has been before the town on many occasions.
“It is something that has been talked about since I got on the Select Board ,” she said, adding that in the past, the board was not willing to move forward, “as to whether it’s a problem or [defining] the degree of the problem.”
Camden resident Alex Cohen had asked at the meeting what the genesis of the ordinance language was.
“The focus is on taking minor steps toward regulation of short rentals,” said Chair Bob Falciani, as well as trying to understand the inventory.
McKellar said at April 6 meeting, “This is not the first step to regulate.”
She said, “We have been able to agree that we don’t have very good data.”
The town hopes to glean information, such as where the un-hosted short term rentals are located, and whether they are investment properties, or residents using homes as income boosters.
The proposed amendment would be attached to the town’s police ordinance, amending it with, “1 G- Un-Hosted Short Term Rental Registration Ordinance.”
The ordinance purpose, according to its language, follows: “The Town of Camden is committed to maintaining its small-town character, scenic beauty, and natural resources that are the foundation of its economic strength and quality of life. The purpose of this registration ordinance is to safeguard the public health and safety of the residents of the Town of Camden and their visitors and guests while preserving the residential character of neighborhoods, minimizing nuisances, and providing equity with other residential and commercial uses. The registration ordinance is an attempt to protect the public’s health and safety in residential neighborhoods and to ensure compliance with applicable zoning ordinance requirements and to ensure the orderly growth and stability of the town’s neighborhoods.”
Currently, the town stipulates that no dwelling unit or portion of it be rented for fewer than seven days.
An Un-hosted Short-Term Rental, according to the town, is a “Short Term Rental where the owner(s) of the property do not reside on property where the Short-Term Rental is located; and it is not the owner(s) primary residence. For the purpose of this provision, primary residence shall mean a dwelling unit occupied by the same resident for a minimum of six consecutive months plus one day.”
A Hosted Short-Term Rental is a “Short-Term Rental where the owner(s) of the property resides on the property where the Short-Term Rental is located; and the property is the property owner’s primary residence. For the purpose of this provision, primary residence shall mean a dwelling unit occupied by the same resident for a minimum of six consecutive months plus one day.”
The proposed ordinance amendment calls for all un-hosted short term rentals to be registered on an annual basis. Registration forms, with applicable fees, would be filed with the town clerk.
Registration forms would include:
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