BERLIN – A resident expressed concern about the issue of short-term rentals in Berlin this week.
At Monday’s town council meeting, resident Pam Hay brought up the issue of Airbnb and its potential impact in Berlin.
“Are you hollowing out the core fabric of the town that brought people here in the first place by allowing short-term rentals?” Hay said. “Are short-term rentals ruining small towns? Some small towns have put laws in effect for the sake of the town and the people who actually live there.”
Hay said that when she did an Internet search of short-term rentals in Berlin, at least 10 properties came up. She went on to say that she saw two types of short-term rentals. While a homeowner renting out a room to someone while they remain in the house isn’t typically destructive to the town, she said standalone short-term rentals — entire houses that people rent out by the week, weekend or night — could be.
“That is a different beast,” she said. “This type of short-term rental affects the feel, environment and safety of a neighborhood. It also takes away from the longer-term rentals available for those who actually live and work in the area.”
Hay added that some towns have moved to allow short-term rentals in only certain areas or so many per street.
“Do you want a crowded, fake tourist town or do you want to maintain a living, breathing town?” she said.
Hay told the council she’d brought up the short-term rental issue with officials two years ago and was told that someone was working on it.
“I haven’t heard any further information…,” she said. “I’m here tonight to follow up.”
Mayor Gee Williams told her he was glad she’d brought up the issue.
“You’re the first person that’s mentioned it to me at all,” he said.
He said the growth of platforms like Airbnb was a new phenomenon. While it’s a trend nationwide, Williams said that in Berlin, the majority of visitors did not stay in town overnight, as the town was home to just one hotel and two bed and breakfasts.
Hay said she just wanted to be sure the council was aware of short-term rentals and their growing popularity.
“I know it may sound petty to some people but it’s not if you live here,” she said.
Williams thanked her for the information.
During the public comment portion of Monday’s meeting, Hay also brought up the issue of leash laws in Berlin. She said her dog had been attacked by a loose dog in 2014 and she’d heard of multiple incidents in which dogs were attacked by loose dogs more recently in Berlin. She said the town should be more aggressive in promotion of its leash laws.