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Greenport officials planning vote on rentals in village that adds a twist to Airbnb stays

Greenport, a village of 2,400 in the town

Greenport, a village of 2,400 in the town of Southold, features views of the Peconic Bay, a shopping district, restaurants and hotels. Credit: Erin Geismar

Greenport could pass regulations by the end of October on short-term and Airbnb rentals that strike a compromise between village residents concerned about noise and trash and property owners worried about maintaining an income stream.

With the growing popularity of short-term rentals in Greenport, creating more comprehensive rental regulations has generated debate within the village for months. San Francisco-based Airbnb reported in September that its Long Island bookings jumped by more than a third this summer, fueled by a sharp uptick in first-time hosts. Nassau and Suffolk counties together had 81,700 guest arrivals from May 25 through Sept. 3, compared with 59,300 for the same period in 2017, Airbnb reported.

Greenport's proposed revision to the village code applies to owners of single-family and two-family homes, and comes with a central caveat: Property owners can offer short-term rentals for less than 14 days, but only if the space is owner-occupied or there is a long-term tenant with at least a one-year lease agreement.

Because an owner must live on the property year-round, only portions of a single-family home can be rented for short stays. In the case of a two-family home, only one of the two dwelling units can be made available for rental. That provision differs from regulations in other communities on Long Island, which don't generally require a property owner or long-term tenant to reside on the premises if an Airbnb reservation is being honored, but Mayor George Hubbard said Wednesday that residents had been “quite receptive” to it.

“Owner-occupied [rentals] was something talked about in Greenport for 5 years,” Hubbard said. “If someone is there on the property, that means someone is watching the place. That seemed to be the general consensus of most people in the village.”

Some residents at meetings in June and July wanted tougher regulations on short-term rentals because of concerns about noise, trash and traffic congestion they said was caused by short-term, transient renters. Some property owners worried tougher regulations would hurt  their prospects for rental income.

Hubbard said Wednesday that officials could pass the measure by as soon as their next regular meeting Oct. 25 if there are no major objections to the proposal before then.

Dozens of residents spoke during a Sept. 27 public hearing on the proposed law. 

Tricia Hammes, who lives on Main Street, called the current proposal “a necessary and important step to maintaining a small-town sense of community within the residential area of the village that so many of us value.”

Joseph Flotteron, a village resident and business owner, said that while he hadn’t decided where he stands on the rental law, he could not have moved to Greenport six years ago without the village's Airbnb rental economy.  

“The Airbnbs and the new economy that’s forming out here is what keeps [young people] here and makes it work,” Flotteron said. He asked the board to consider its actions carefully. “If that goes away and dries up, I have to go to the city  like everybody else.”

Trustee Doug Roberts said the proposal was "a pretty creative way to solve the problem for both the year-round people and the short-term rental people."

The next public hearing on the proposed amendment is at 7 p.m. Oct. 18 at Village Hall.

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