There were several local ballot initiatives that impacted the vacation rental industry on Tuesday’s ballot in the U.S. In four contests, the adverse results will affect the local vacation rental market and the local travel and tourism industry in those communities.
A charter amendment on the Maui ballot will toughen penalties for non-permitted short-term rentals. The fines will increase from $1,000 to up to $20,000. The amendment will also allow for $10,000 a day fine if the rental persists.
The unofficial results have this measure passing with 51.7% of the vote.
Measure T passed on Tuesday by only 113 votes (a margin of only 2.5% of the vote). This measure will ban vacation rentals outside the “core tourist area” by 2021. Currently, there are 400 vacation rentals in the “core tourist area” and 1,400 rentals outside the area. The passage of this measure will now implement a phase-out 78% of vacation rentals in the community.
UPDATE: Overseas and provisional ballots decreased the margin of victory for Measure T supporters. The November 16, 2018 ballot figures show only a 47 vote margin of victory.
Pacific Grove has long debated short-term rentals in the community. Measure M passed Tuesday by 58.9% of the vote. The measure will prohibit vacation rentals from residentially zoned neighborhoods outside of the Coastal Zone. There will be a phase-out of nearly 70% of vacation rentals over the next 18 month. This equates to a loss of nearly $1.3 million in transient occupancy taxes.
The South Portland ballot measure was a vote to uphold a proposal that passed the city council earlier in the year. The proposal places regulations on homesharing and will ban non-owner occupied vacation rentals in residential areas. The city estimates that 75% of whole home rentals are not owner occupied and will be prohibited from renting in the future. Over 1,500 voters cast a ballot but did not vote on the ballot initiative, enough votes that could have changed the outcome.
These ballot measures, while destructive and undesirable to the vacation rental industry, will clearly still face legal challenges. There are several lawsuits around the country, including a case in Pacific Grove, which could affect the outcomes of these votes. These results also are a clear sign that managers and industry stakeholders must organize to advance legislation at the state level to regulate the industry and end the ever-changing fragmented local rules for vacation rentals.