CAPE ELIZABETH — Full-time residents asked the Cape Elizabeth Ordinance Committee to reconsider the short-term rental policy, after alleging continuous noise issues and parking violations from frequent vacationers.

After listening to public comments on Oct. 28, the committee decided that while there should be some heftier fees and clearer rules, there is still a lot of work left to do.

The ordinance’s current definition of a shortterm renter is “the use of a dwelling offered for rent for transient occupancy by tenants for a tenancy of less than 30 days, excluding motels, hotels and bed and breakfasts.”

Committee member Valerie Adams said that she was fully against short-term renters, saying that those properties consume houses that could potentially be for new families who are looking to live in Cape Elizabeth.

Penny Jordan, chair of the committee, and committee member Caitlin Jordan refuted this, saying that someone who is renting a home out may be doing so because of financial difficulties.

They also said that people who rent out family homes, which have been passed down for generations, might not want to let go of that property, and they shouldn’t be forced to.

The majority of residents who spoke at the meeting were against short-term renters and used examples of problems that had occurred over the summer.

Timothy Hebda, who lives on Richmond Terrace, said that his neighborhood isn’t the same place it was 15 years ago. He said that this is a year-round problem, too.

“For folks who live here, it’s a weekly issue of speed, of noise,” he said. “For distant landowners, property owners, it’s an occasional phone call here and there.

“The increase in the rental properties is removing, in my opinion, affordable housing for young families,” he continued. “It’s impacting school enrollment.”

A rental issue that occurred on June 2 impacted Anthony Armstrong, who lives on Lawson Road. He said that a family who was renting a house on his street parked “perpendicular” to his lawn.

“It’s a whole different world when the owner doesn’t live there,” he said.

Property owner and parttime Cape Elizabeth resident Don Russell, who rents the home on Lawson Road at which the June 2 incident occurred, said that he believed the ordinance needs minor editing, but short-term rentals are important in keeping Cape Elizabeth a friendly and welcoming environment.

He said that 99 percent of the renters he’s had at his property have been pleasant to deal with and have followed the rules.

“A small handful of activists, misguided, perhaps bitter neighbors, who represent most of the 20 documented complaints, by the way — who should not be allowed to dictate policy any more than I and a few owners or managers should — will never be satisfied,” Russell said. “I know a few of them, like one who told me, ‘You are not a neighbor. You are a renter, a business owner. You are nobody.’ Shameful, elitist and prejudice.

“Is Cape an open and affirming community or a boarder wall for outsiders?” he asked.

A person who rents out a house but never lives there is, in fact, not a neighbor, said Jennifer Aronson, who also lives on Lawson Road.

While Aronson expressed frustration with renters’ disrespectful behavior, she said there should be a compromise to the short-term rental ordinance; if a person needs to rent out part of their home in order to pay bills, pay income tax or fund an emergency, she is not going to be against that.

Penny Jordan said that she wasn’t ready to fully ban short-term renters for this reason.

The committee agreed that homestays, a “use that is accessory and incidental to the primary use of a dwelling as a residence” would be a better option, as the homeowner would actually be present at the rented-out space.

“It seems like we want to shift toward owners being more present and we want to make sure the fines and violations are meaningful,” Penny Jordan said. “If we were to have short-term rentals, the fee would be a lot greater than $50.”

Ben McDougal, the code enforcement officer, said that the application process for short-term rentals is a time-consuming and painful process for him, and he would like to see that become easier, both for his job and for the applicant.

The next ordinance committee meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 7 at town hall.

Catherine Bart can be reached at [email protected] or 780-9029.

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