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Mamakating hosts short-term rentals workshop

By Samantha Montagna
Posted 5/27/22

MAMAMAKTING — On Thursday, May 18, Mamakating held a workshop to discuss the ideas the public has brought up about the short-term rental law (STR) from the public workshops last month.

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Mamakating hosts short-term rentals workshop


MAMAMAKTING — On Thursday, May 18, Mamakating held a workshop to discuss the ideas the public has brought up about the short-term rental law (STR) from the public workshops last month.

In addition to the town board (minus Peter Goodman, who was absent), Mary Grass, the Code Enforcer and Kyra Platt from the Building Department were in attendance. Each councilman presented their ideas, and after the board discussed a few points of disagreement over the course of the meeting.

Many of the board members noted that having short-term rentals is a good way for many to make extra income as well as bring tourism and customers to support local restaurants and businesses.

Some board members also noted that many people are worried about large parties, noise, garbage, septic and code enforcement problems.

Septic Inspections/Pumping

Councilman Tyler Wood voiced his opinion that with regulation, “less is more.”

He stated that he was against septic inspections. Wood stated that regular homeowners do not have to undergo septic inspections every year, and it is difficult to inspect septic systems unless something is wrong. Wood stated that if plans are already in the Building Department, there should not be a need for inspections.

Town Supervisor Mike Robbins suggested requiring STR owners to have their septic pumped every year to ensure proper maintenance. Wood rejected the suggestion citing that regular homeowner do not have their septic tanks pumped every year. Grass stated that many homes in Mamakating were built for seasonal use or weekend use, and even though a home may be built based on number of people per bedroom, many people may abuse occupancy.

Grass stated that many people may use air mattresses to squeeze more people in a room, and septic tanks may not be able to handle use on a consistent basis.

AirBnB Regulates Itself

Councilman Wood also suggested that septic problems or problems with the home would not be a big problem because AirBnB regulates itself with its review system.

Both Councilman John Rufer and Wood said that if a listing has even one bad review, they would not rent the home. Wood said that people do not want to rent a subpar home, which would motivate homeowners to maintain their homes.

Grass disagreed stating that there could be many five-star reviews on a home, and one bad review would not deter people as much as he thinks. Supervisor Robbins also noted that there will always be the person who will never be satisfied who will leave a bad review.

Who will enforce the law?

Councilman Matt Mordas noted that his ward saw some disagreement about who should complete inspections. It was suggested many times that the fire departments take part in the inspections, which the board disagreed with. Supervisor Robbins stated that voluntary firefighters cannot handle the influx of work that would bring in.

Councilman Thomas Morrow also stated that even though he has taken many classes, he, as a firefighter, is not nearly as qualified to complete inspections as someone in the building department.

Morrow said it would be “burden” to them and that “should be out the window.”

Councilman Gary Forthoffer also asked “how much teeth” will enforcement of this law have? The board discussed noise complaints or other complaints and Grass stated that all noise complaints should be directed to the Sheriff’s Office.

The board discussed implementing a schedule of fines for bad hosts, and it was suggested that hosts could sign affidavits in lieu of inspections.

The board also discussed requiring homeowners to give pamphlets to renters with emergency numbers, home and safety information, as well as local businesses for advertisement, but the board questioned how far they should go in terms of enforcing it.

How Many Permits?

The board noted that they have no way of knowing how many AirBnBs currently operate within the town. The idea of grandfathering any existing AirBnBs would be impossible since there are none registered.

The board also asked questions about the timing of registration as to not overwhelm the Building Department. In addition, they agreed to not limit the AirBnB season as the previous draft of the Short-Term Rental Law did citing that they did not want to limit tourism to the town.

They also tossed around questions about limiting the number of permits and how many permits should go to what areas.

The board noted that areas with lakes like Wolf Lake, Yankee Lake, and Masten Lake will see more AirBnBs, and those areas have more sewage and safety concerns.

Wood countered that there are also rivers and streams to think about, not just the lake areas. The board did note that Homeowners Associations within the lake areas and trailer parks will be able to enforce stricter rules on AirBnBs if they choose.

The consensus of the board was that an STR law was needed, and a limit on permits would also be needed to avoid too many STRs. Although AirBnBs are popular, it was noted that most registrants would likely be residents who are already operating, not looking to begin.

Robbins ended the meeting by thanking everyone for coming out and noted that the board will be meeting again in the future on this issue.


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