In Brief – Two Hudson Common Council members – one of them the mayor-elect – spoke out against Mayor Rick Rector’s veto of a nine-month moratorium on new Airbnbs and other short-term rentals (STRs) that had unanimously passed the Common Council last month.
A third council member, outgoing Alderman Rich Volo, voiced support for the veto, saying the newly passed 2020 budget made him reconsider his vote in support of the moratorium.
The moratorium is meant to pause new STRs to give the council room to craft legislation further regulating the rentals. There is already a 4 percent tax on all STRs and other lodgings in Hudson, but the proposed legislation is meant to alleviate Hudson’s skyrocketing housing costs by freeing up housing.
Fourth Ward Alderman John Rosenthal, who helped author the moratorium, said he was “baffled and frustrated” by the veto.
“It’s pretty clear the people who are opposed to this don’t understand what it’s meant to do, and are just, frankly, ignorant,” he said.
The moratorium, or any regulation of STRs, was never supposed to be the silver bullet to solve Hudson’s housing woes, Rosenthal said, but it was clear investing in properties to start STRs has negative impacts on the city.
Mayor Rector’s veto message on Friday stated the crafting of legislation regulating STRs didn’t need a nine-month moratorium, given the period already spent discussing such legislation. It also stated the moratorium does not address affordable housing, and it gave the appearance that Hudson was against development.
Since all current STR operators could continue to rent out their properties, it was “beyond me” why Rector made this argument, Rosenthal said.
“I’m disappointed in the mayor that he wants to…fire a shot like this going out the door,” he added. “If he wants to leave his mark this way, let him do it.”
Rector lost reelection and is set to leave office at the end of the year.
Alderman Volo, who originally voted for the moratorium, said with the new budget, the numbers don’t add up.
Volo, along with the rest of the council, passed the budget Nov. 19, which calls for more revenue from the city’s four percent tax on STRs. Directly after this meeting, they voted to stop new STRs with the moratorium.
The city should focus on getting more money from the STR tax – which essentially taxes tourists – to alleviate the property tax burden on residents, Volo said.
“That’s the way to help make Hudson more affordable – to decrease taxes,” he said.
Volo also mentioned the city’s affordable housing plan, authored by the Common Council’s Housing Taskforce, and said the city should stick to this thoroughly studied plan, which only briefly mentions STRs.
“I see very little follow-through on that,” he said of the plan.
The city’s fund balance – its rainy day find – was getting lower and lower, and the city needed to be more fiscally responsible, he added.
First Ward Alderman Kamal Johnson, who will replace Rector in the new year, said the moratorium shows “Hudson is not a business, it’s a community.”
He also expressed that the moratorium would not impact current STR owners, and said he saw no reason for the veto.
The council plans to hold a vote to override the veto.
The 11-member council needs 8 votes for an override. Johnson said he would vote to override but was unsure if enough members would join him to make it successful.
Volo said he supported Mayor Rector’s veto but would not commit to voting to override the veto.