Chautauqua at risk of being drained by short-term rentals, council says

In the small neighborhood of Chautauqua, residents fear their community will be drained by the growth of short-term rentals, a community association official said.

Short-term rentals “jeopardize the critical balance between residents and visitors that has allowed us to maintain our amazing community while providing visitors with a great experience,” said Brian Crow, President of the Residents Association. of Chautauqua, to the councillors. in committee of the whole on Monday.

The growth of non-hosted short-term rentals has left some Chautauqua homes barren in the off-season and depriving Chautauqua of permanent residents, he said.

According to maps of the Niagara region, there are approximately 250 residences in Chautauqua. Data compiled by The Lake Report shows about 25 short-term rentals in the neighborhood.

Only one of these rentals is a bed and breakfast, the others are cottages and villas. This means that nearly 10% of Chautauqua’s homes are no one’s home.

“We don’t like driving around and seeing empty houses all winter. We love seeing the kids, we love seeing the families come to the parks,” he said.

“We organize a barbecue in September of each summer. We have games for children. If we don’t have residents, we don’t have this barbecue. If we don’t have residents, we don’t have a community that takes care of each other.

That sense of community is what makes Chautauqua a special neighborhood, he said.

“There is no doubt that we are going through a burnout process due to the number of non-owner occupied short-term rentals operating in our neighborhood.”

“Chautauqua is a very unique residential community,” Crow said.

“It’s a close, supportive group of people who care deeply about the well-being of their environment, their neighborhood and each other.”

He listed several examples of Chautauquan’s willingness to help each other. He noted that the community rallied around the Tribe and Sherlock family when Shane Sherlock died in February.

He said residents recently helped a neighbor run errands when she was incapacitated and shoveled snow for a woman who had broken her foot.

“In short, the councillors, the residents show that we care about it every day.

Crow said he does not consider hosted rentals, conventional bed and breakfasts, within the realm of “short-term rentals” because they provide permanent housing for a resident.

Among Crow’s demands to the board was that non-hosted rentals be treated as commercial enterprises and subject to the same tax treatment.

“A recently listed short-term rental listed annual short-term rental revenue as $100,000,” Crow said.

“It’s clearly a commercial operation.”

Com. Norm Arsenault asked Crow why a short-term rental should be considered a business venture but not, say, a hairdresser who works from home.

“Residential property taxes relate to where the house is used as a residence,” Crow replied, noting that the residents’ association draws a clear line in the sand between hosted and non-hosted short-term rentals.

A hairdresser operating from his own home would be akin to a bed and breakfast operator, who lives in the house he also rents.

Crow acknowledged that imposing business taxes on residential zoned property might not be legally feasible and recommended an alternative route for the council.

“The city has the power to authorize and charge fees. The city could set the annual fee on non-owner-operated short-term rentals at the equivalent of the difference between commercial and residential property tax,” he said.

Crow asked the city to designate a formula that calculates the maximum number of short-term rentals allowed in a community based on housing density, a recommendation also made by the city’s own short-term rental committee in July. latest.

Com. Gary Burroughs, a member of this committee, noted that the city needs to catch up with residents on the issue of short-term rentals.

“The press has a full debate on short-term rentals every week now and we haven’t even looked at our report that came from the committee (in July 2021),” he said.

Burroughs said the city shouldn’t wait so long to address an issue at the forefront of public discourse.

“People don’t wait. They all make up their own minds,” he said. “We have to move on that.”

Chief executive Marnie Cluckie said a report on the short-term rental committee’s recommendations is expected to be presented to council next week or April.

Com. Erwin Wiens said he agrees with Crow to consider non-hosted short-term rental business activities, but is looking for specific ways to address this concern.

He noted that to charge business taxes on a residential property, the rental would have to be classified as a corporation, which Crow initially said against.

But conceding the city might need to get creative with the problem, Crow said he would be fine with treating the rentals like corporations.

Wiens also brought home a key problem – as NOTL is a tourist town, short-term rentals provide a place to stay for tourists. Moving away from short-term rentals, Wiens asked Crow if he was in favor of building more hotels to accommodate tourists.

Crow said it would be open to possible new hotels as part of a comprehensive tourism plan that deals with short-term rentals and transitional accommodation.

“If the tourism plan that we have is going to get us more visitors,” Crow said.

He added that his concerns were limited to Chautauqua and his desire for longer-term residences in the neighborhood.

“We used to have long-term rentals here. Many of them have been converted to short-term rentals,” he said.

“We have people complaining that they can’t find accommodation.”

The Board unanimously supported sending Crow’s organization’s recommendations to staff for consideration and inclusion in the next short-term rentals report.

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