Letter: South Portland shouldn't kill short-term rentals

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I became a resident in Willard Beach 18 months ago because of the location and the great neighborhood. The house next door was a short-term rental property and my neighbor experience has been excellent. The renters are respectful and grateful to be here. The owners, who visit and stay a few times a year, are conscientious and responsive. After attending a city meeting on this matter, I learned that not all renters are as respectful, nor owners as attentive. How do you legislate against the exceptions?

The Portland model of on-site owner-occupied under consideration for copy and approval by South Portland councilors is too narrow and does not allow for the success stories also heard at that meeting. There is clear economic benefit to the community and there is social benefit if some aspects of short-term rentals can be limited. My suggestions are to license them, tax them, inspect rental records, limit the number of rental properties per square mile, monitor and limit nuisance and police calls, and limit the number of renters per house (based on bathrooms? bedrooms? driveway space?).

We can’t stop our neighborhood from evolving, but we can limit the change without resorting to the Portland model. Short-term rentals are an asset that needs to be tended, not smothered.

Robert Erdlitz
South Portland

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