A question headed to Portland voters this fall has some worried short-term rentals will effectively come to an end.
Supporters of the ballot initiative say it will help with the affordable housing crisis.
The hope is that by restricting short-term rentals, those will turn into long-term options instead.
Some are worried that could have unintended consequences in some parts of the city.
“Our utmost concern is making sure that the people who work in Portland have options to live in Portland,” Wes Pelletier with the Democratic Socialists of America said.
The Maine Democratic Socialists of America put the initiative forward.
It would restrict short-term rentals to those that are owner-occupied, tenant-occupied or in a two-unit building occupied by the owner.
“Right now, there are so many short-term rentals out there that are taking up space that long-term renters in Portland used to be able to use,” Pelletier said.
Some believe that wouldn’t happen on a place like Peaks Island.
“It’s a one-size-fits-all approach to a very complex issue,” Peaks Island homeowner Meghan Casey said.
Casey rents out her home from time to time.
She’s an affordable housing advocate but thinks this won’t work.
“I don’t think this referendum, with regard to how it impacts the island, will do anything to help with that issue, and in fact, I think it will make it worse,” Casey said.
That’s because people, like Chuck Radis, use their short-term rentals to help pay the bills.
“We would hate for people then, not being able to pay the taxes, having to find somewhere to live in Portland or somewhere away,” Radis said.
Those who can now afford to buy homes there might not use it as much.
“They’re out here for just two or three weeks in the summer and the rest of the year, it stays empty,” Radis said.
“All the businesses out here depend on short-term rentals to exist,” Brad’s Bike Rental & Repair Owner Brad Burkholder said.
Burkholder worries about the fallout to the rest of the community.
“I don’t understand why they’re pressing on us when this is vital to the city’s economy, as well as our economy,” Burkholder said.
The Maine DSA says this would return 340 housing units back to the market for long-term rentals.
Despite the concerns, they are confident the measure will succeed.