Cold Spring Considers Software to Manage Rentals
Would include a 24-hour hotline for complaints
A The company that makes software to manage short-term rental registrations, regulations and complaints assured the Cold Spring Village Board on Wednesday (April 27) that this was the solution to the challenges it faced.
A Granicus representative said its product is used by many municipalities, including Dutchess County, to track short-term rental transactions. The village council voted in July, 3-2, to begin regulating STRs.
Administrator Cathryn Fadde, who along with administrator Eliza Starbuck researched the company’s services, said it would cost $4,300 for a one-year contract to identify all STR addresses. , monitor operator compliance with regulations and operate a 24-hour hotline to handle complaints.
“STRs become problematic for many communities when growth is not met by regulation,” said Kester Bonsu of Granicus. “Our data shows that about 10% of STR operators voluntarily comply with orders, which generally leads to friction in the community.”
A preliminary analysis of Cold Spring identified 35 active STRs, he said. Cold Spring law allows the village to issue permits for up to 33 sites where the owner lives on the premises and 16 sites where the owner is not present.
Bonsu said STRs can be an asset if they encourage tourism, but manually monitoring their operation can be costly and time-consuming. Most compliance officers go from property to property to confirm DOS operations.
Phil Heffernan, who operates a short-term rental in the village, said he thought buying the software might be premature. “It’s terribly expensive and somewhat offensive in that it uses artificial intelligence to probe our community,” he said. “I’m not sure the company can track occupations, financial transactions, a lot of things that are really not legal.”
Bonsu said while the oversight might seem intrusive to STR operators, “it would be totally unreasonable” for a 120-200-room hotel to open in Cold Spring but refuse to obtain a permit or pay taxes.
“You’re dealing with an active commercial interest in the community, generating revenue, but not necessarily complying with regulations,” he said.
Bonsu said STR providers are often “less enthusiastic” about helping municipalities manage compliance. “Most STR organizations, like Airbnb and VRBO, won’t even give you the address of the units they have in your community.”
Mayor Kathleen Foley said the village has identified more than 35 STRs operating in Cold Spring, but only four have applied for permits.
Administrator Tweeps Woods noted that information collected by Granicus is publicly available. “This is not a deep dive or an FBI search of people’s homes,” she said. “That may sound a little brotherly, but it’s information anyone could get if they did the job.”
Heffernan claimed that the Granicus software was created for large metropolitan areas such as New York, not smaller communities. “I’m not saying it’s a bad product, but we don’t have any real experience under an open permit program, unlike the draconian legislation proposed by the previous board,” he said. . “It was never attempted; just tell everyone, get a license if you want to do business.
Bonsu said typically only 10% of STR operators apply for permits if there’s no enforcement — about what Cold Spring saw. He also said his company works with communities that have as few as 10-20 STRs.
Foley said using the software would address a criticism of the STR law that it is not data-driven. “This is a data set to work from that is neutral and very useful as we seek to improve this local law,” she said.
Foley said a draft of proposed revisions to the STR Act should be ready for public review in the coming weeks. She voted against the law in July while serving as a trustee on the board, as did Woods. The former mayor and two former administrators counted for the “yes” votes.
On Thursday, April 28, the mayor said the village has earmarked funds that could be earmarked for a contract with Granicus. She said the software would “professionalize the regulation of STRs and significantly expand our ability to assess and mitigate their impacts.”
In other cases…
- The board approved the 2022-23 general fund budget, including expenditures of $2.85 million and a tax increase of 1.89%. Water and sewer budgets, which are funded through user fees, were also approved, with expenditures of approximately $836,000 and $610,000, respectively.
- The council passed a resolution asking Metro-North to postpone the reopening of the Breakneck Ridge station until the Hudson Highlands Fjord Trail infrastructure is “at least partially functioning.” Metro-North says it plans to open the platform in late May. A railway spokesman said up to 600 people a day disembark at the station during peak periods.
- Council authorized the mayor to sign a parking easement agreement with the owners of 40 Main Street, the former Ellen Hayden Gallery, which is being converted into offices and retail. The agreement was negotiated because the parking required by the village code does not exist on Main Street. The landlord will lease 20 spaces in the Fair Street municipal lot at a cost of $25,000 per year for use by office workers Monday through Thursday, a time when counting data from the village showed the lot was under- used. The landlord will also pay the standard waiver fee of $250 for seven spaces required for retail space.
- For health reasons, Ed Currelley resigned as chairman of the ad hoc committee on police reform. Victor Burgos now chairs the group. The committee is expected to make recommendations to the village council by the end of June.