To the Editor: Article overreach 

To the Editor:  

I urge the resident of Bar Harbor to vote NO at the Nov. 2 Town Meeting on the Article 4 amendment to the vacation rental regulations.  

In the Oct. 14 issue, Town Council members assert (in “Article 4 can help Bar Harbor with housing”) that, “with the advent of vacation rentals (VR), it has become nearly impossible” to find “affordable, year-round housing in Bar Harbor.” 

This is an unsupported overstatement: There are many reasons why housing is expensive in Bar Harbor, and no one knows how much blame VRs deserve.  

I do agree with Council’s statement that “housing bought solely for the purpose of seasonal rental” is part of the problem. But Article 4 goes far beyond that specific concern. Ordinary second vacation homeowners offer VRs when they aren’t there. They aren’t investors in the rental business – they just want to spend time in Bar Harbor because they love it. VR use is incidental. Their homes are in the upper price range, and therefore not candidates for affordable housing, or long-term rentals. Limits on second vacation homes for VR use doesn’t solve the problem that Article 4 addresses. So the article is just gratuitously punishing ordinary second home owners.  

Also swept into Article 4 are full-time residents who want to supplement their income by renting out a second dwelling on a nearby lot (as opposed to the same lot). Why should they be burdened by this proposal? Another example of how the article overreaches: For the first-time non-resident VRs are completely prohibited in the Shoreland Residential zone (other than grandfathered VRs). The Town Council article incorrectly says that this is OK because no VRs are currently in that zone. Wrong. As of December 2020, there were 56 VRs in that zone. Only one other zone had more VRs. And just like for second vacation homes, restricting that zone makes no sense because the properties there are at the high-end of the market and irrelevant to solving the affordable housing problem.  

Please reject Article 4. 


Norman Beamer 

Sleepy Hollow, N.Y. 

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