CAPE ELIZABETH — The ordinance committee is unsure of how it wants to restrict short-term rentals in a way that is fair to both full-time residents and “respectful” renters.

On Jan. 6, the ordinance committee looked at the proposed draft of the new regulations for short term rentals. The draft has been viewed by the town attorney, said Town Planner Maureen O’Meara.

The desire for the committee to update the ordinance comes from residents complaining about the behavior of some short-term renters and their desire to see more permanent Cape Elizabeth property owners.

For example, on the committee’s Oct. 28 meeting, one resident, Tim Heba, said that a renter had walked into his house mistakenly, which is a concern for public safety.

The committee, councilors Penny Jordan, Chris Straw and Jamie Garvin, discussed limiting the amount of days or weeks that a home can be used for short-term rentals, particularly when the property owner is not present (which they called an “unhosted short term rental.”)

Alina Perez, who lives on Little John Road, said that while she was in favor of the limited days, anything less than 30 would affect her ability to remain in Cape Elizabeth. As a single parent, she needs to rent out a space for a few weeks each summer to help pay her real estate taxes.

“I’m really respectful and caring with my neighbors,” she said. “It really enriches our town and supports our residents in various financial means. If I can’t continue to live here, who do you want working for your town? Please don’t limit this any further. It impacts singles and retirees.”

Another renter, Deborah King, said that she has an “active interest” in her home. She is what the committee referred to as a “hosted short-term rental.”

“When you’re hosting, there’s no problems,” she said.

Councilor Penny Jordan said that she was leaning towards a 90-day limit, but Councilors Jamie Garvin and Chris Straw did not express agreement with this.

Garvin proposed a 60-day limit, but it could be split up between two chunks of 30 days. He also wanted the regulation on what proof of identification needed to apply to be a renter to be more specific, as the draft right now requests “Government ID,” which a driver’s license cannot qualify as anymore in the state of Maine.

Changes so far include a new section that clarifies what kinds of short-term rentals would be allowed in the town. The committee said that they are looking to deter people from buying a residential home to use as a business.

“We need to have things clear enough so that a person off the street can read it,” said Jordan.

She said that the next three to five months will probably be spent working on this ordinance draft and making sure that the planning board and town council approves of the changes.

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: