Viewpoint: Vote No on 4, Yes on 6: Homeowner’s rights matter 

By Erica Brooks 

The devil is in the details. If you are seeing the signs, “save our community vote yes on 4,” pop up, I urge you to thoroughly read the ordinance and understand the repercussions and potential unintended consequences that would devastate our community if Article 4 passes.  

The article discusses regulation and deregulation of the current vacation rental ordinance. One, if this passes, our neighborhoods will become more transient than ever before and with less regulation. VR1 would allow a homeowner to rent their home plus a second dwelling unit onsite with a two-night minimum simply with a vacation rental permit. Essentially turning homes into motels. I think we can all agree we do not need more properties operating as two-night, transient accommodations.  

As a former Planning Board member, I was heavily involved with the process of forming an ordinance regulating short term rentals WITH the goal of affordable housing in mind. The way this article is written will do nothing to assist with affordable housing, which is truly a shame. Bar Harbor does need to work on the broad concept of affordable housing and how to 1) create more supply that is secured and protected for long-term housing; 2) decrease the barriers to entry for developers and employers who want to add more supply; and 3) incentivize those of us who do offer long-term rentals.  

I do not currently own a vacation rental; however, I know so many locals benefiting from having a vacation rental – whether as a part of their investment plan or simply to help offset their ever-increasing taxes and allow them to remain a part of our great community. To think the town is trying to take that option away is a gross overreach.  

Do you own a vacation rental or a home that you may want to pass down to your children who may want to use it as a vacation rental? Voting Yes would NOT allow that transfer.  

The idea of “people from away” scoffing up all the affordable housing is incorrect – the planning department has pages and pages of data on that alone. The housing market has had an upward trend for a decade and that cannot be blamed on vacation rentals. I commend the planning department’s strong work on Article 6, referring to Bonus Dwelling Units and believe a Yes vote on 6 will actually make a difference with affordable housing.  

If you care about keeping our neighborhoods intact with the current four-night minimum and want the opportunity for your family to afford to stay here in the future with an option to transfer your short-term rental, then I urge you to vote No on article 4. Homeownership rights matter.  

Erica Brooks lives in Bar Harbor.  

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