Village Postpones STR Public Input Sessions

Why it Matters

Two public input sessions on short-term rentals in Saranac Lake have been cancelled until after the village’s Housing Work Group makes public its draft recommendations in June. The meetings were scheduled for May 13 and May 26.

Short-term rentals have become a hot topic in Saranac Lake as affordable housing has become scarce and a flood of reports pour in on how people can’t find apartments in the area. The village’s Housing Work Group was formed in Dec. 2018 but has remained largely unknown to the public until recently.

The Breakdown

  • According to a press release, the Housing Work Group’s draft “Housing Strategic Plan and Recommendations to the Village Board” document “will include recommendations regarding a number of housing issues in Saranac Lake, which will provide the context needed for a community-wide discussion about housing as a whole, not just short-term rentals.”
  • The village will seek public input on the draft plan. The details of that process haven’t been announced.
  • In the meantime, the public can email comments to the village board to clerk@saranaclakeny.gov, or by mail at 39 Main St., Suite 9, Saranac Lake, NY 12983.  
  • Short-term rental surveys are also available on the village website through May 17. 
  • will continue to be collected through May 17.  Surveys are also available to be submitted online, see the village website. Just follow the big black arrow.

Monday Night Debate

  • During Monday night’s village board meeting, Trustee Melinda Little made a pitch to postpone the public input sessions until the Housing Work Group’s draft was complete.
  • Little said the village needs more context about housing issues before the short-term rental conversation can continue, and said she’d like to see a “robust public engagement program” after initial recommendations are published in early June.
  • Little also said the working group has had a lot of discussion about zombie properties and short-term rentals, and that a community discussion about priorities and resource allocation needs to happen
  • Trustee Rich Shapiro disagreed with postponing the public input sessions on short-term rentals, and said the Housing Work Group is addressing the “global issue” of housing in Saranac Lake, which is different. Shapiro added that short-term rentals are “probably a small portion” of the larger housing issue here.
  • Shapiro reminded the board that the short-term rental discussion began because people living next to short-term rentals complained to the village about issues such as noise and parking. He said short-term rental operators should easily be able to accept new regulations, which would address those issues.
  • At the end of the discussion the board was deadlocked, with trustees Little and Kelly Brunette in favor of posting the public input sessions and trustees Shapiro and Tom Catillaz against it. Mayor Clyde Rabideau recused himself, as he is a local developer and short-term rental operator.
  • The board didn’t vote Monday night, and the fate of the public input sessions was unclear until a press release was issued the next day.

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