KINGSTON, NY — For the Many, an activist group for progressive political candidates and causes, has launched a campaign to ban non-owner-occupied vacation rentals listed on sites such as Airbnb.
Billed as the “Homes Are Not Hotels” campaign, the group plans to target municipalities in the Hudson Valley, including Beacon, Kingston, New Paltz, Newburgh and Poughkeepsie.
For the Many this week unveiled a campaign website and announced a regional press conference to be held on Thursday July 21 in Newburgh with elected officials from Ulster, Orange and Dutchess counties who support legislation proposed by the militant group.
“Vacation rentals (like Airbnbs) play a significant role in limiting our housing options and driving up prices,” For the Many executive director Johnathan Bix said in a statement. “Absentee investors are buying up huge swathes of our housing stock and turning them into vacation rentals for tourists instead of renting or selling to longtime residents of the Hudson Valley.
“Attacking greedy investors and giant tech companies like Airbnb won’t be easy — but this fight is necessary to ensure longtime Hudson Valley residents can stay in the communities they call home,” did he declare.
Sarahana Shrestha, the Democratic candidate in the race for the state’s 103rd Assembly District, agreed. For the Many has been a strong supporter of Shrestha’s campaign.
“At a time when property developers and landlords have made housing a scarce commodity, housing insecurity is further compounded by unregulated short-term rentals that make it harder for full-time residents to find housing” , Shrestha said. “To create good, stable housing in the Hudson Valley, we need to regulate and close the loopholes for whole-home vacation rentals that are run by people who don’t live there.”
Some communities already have short-term rental regulations in place.
In May, Kingston Mayor Steve Noble said the city had stepped up enforcement of short-term rental regulations passed in 2021 by City Council and required all hosts to comply with a check-in process. .
The council resolution amended the definition of “hotel” in the city’s zoning code to include short-term rentals to align the definition with that used by Ulster County. The definition of Ulster County Hotels allows for the collection of Ulster County hotel and motel room occupancy tax.
The city’s current zoning code allows short-term rentals in certain neighborhoods, though Kingston is transitioning to an updated form-based code.
To legally operate a short-term rental in a licensed area in Kingston, all hosts must be registered and current on county occupancy tax payments. Guests must also register with Kingston’s Building Security Department to obtain a business license and obtain a special permit from the city’s planning board.
Summer Smith, the city’s director of communications and community engagement, said Friday that Kingston is ready to consider For the Many’s proposal. The city is currently reviewing its own regulations, she said.
“We look forward to speaking with For the Many to learn more about their proposal, but in the meantime we encourage anyone interested in STR (short-term rental) regulations to participate in our code review process at ‘citywide,'” Smith said in an email. “The city has been working on developing a form-based code, which will include guidelines for STRs across the city in the future.”