to rent or not to rent in Lakewood | News, Sports, Jobs
For as long as anyone alive today can remember, families have stopped by their summer rental cabins at Chautauqua Lake to tow boats, coolers and children.
Cottage rentals have been a right of passage in America since the Industrial Revolution, when vacations became a thing. So, far from the idea of ending this, of allowing a community to become so exclusive that the only people who have access to the lake are those who are wealthy enough to buy it.
I am for renting the chalet. It democratizes the waterfront. And the majority of tenants who have walked through the doors with their fishing rods and deckchairs in Lakewood are there to make memories, to spend money in our little ice cream parlors and restaurants.
The controversy in Lakewood over the regulation of short-term rentals is hard on people, as there are very few people who don’t sympathize with both sides. There are neighbors with horror stories about short-term rentals abutting their properties, but there are also dozens of responsible landowners who have been giving good tenants access to our lakeside community for years.
Airbnb and companies like it have changed the game. They have transformed the rental industry and not always for the good, prompting local and state governments to get involved. And when they do, they sometimes hit the short-term rental industry pretty hard, with a hammer.
Residents are too focused on the moratorium and that is a mistake. Nothing has changed for rentals for next year. What we need to focus on are the new regulations drawn up during the moratorium, which will surely include new zoning laws that will prohibit rentals in certain areas of the village.
And that’s a big problem. When a governing body passes laws that tell taxpayer residents how they can use their properties, they must realize that they are playing with fate here – they will change lives and destinies and that is not something to be taken the slight. It is too easy to approach this problem with emotion rather than with the care and diligence it deserves.
A village resident has purchased over a dozen properties, mostly in Lakewood, and many of those properties are short-term rentals. I respect their right to do so, but this is where the waters get muddy.
I believe in the idea of community – where real stakeholders who care about our village occupy its homes, send their children to our schools, volunteer on committees and vote. They care about their neighbors and contribute to the well-being of life here. When too many homes become short-term rentals, those homes become soulless, with no stakeholders living inside. And anyone who is honest will admit that this is not an ideal situation for a small village.
I’m against the kind of zoning where outright bans are put in place, but I see the need to regulate the rental industry so our village doesn’t become a place of vacant, soulless homes. Other communities across the country have managed to find a balance, a workable solution which, as one resident put it, is a “win-win” for everyone. And what that looks like depends on both the village council and a group of dedicated residents.
Hey, my family owned a cabin on the lake when I was young that we rented out from time to time when we weren’t there. I don’t think the neighbors were very thrilled, especially when one year someone hoisted their underwear on our neighbor’s flagpole. This was in the 1970s, so let’s not pretend traditional cabin rentals are anything new.
My husband and I rented our own cabin from time to time, especially in the winter when we went elsewhere for work. But Covid and big money – not just accommodation platforms – have altered the fabric of many communities, where it’s not just traditional rental that’s blamed, but big money. money that arrives and floods a district, a village or a city.
We all know that not all change is good change.
We can protect our community by encouraging stakeholders to live behind the gates of our village, while respecting timeless cottage rental.
No one knows how we do it, but there is an opportunity here to get it right.
And it’s important that we do.