15 thoughts on “Town Mulling Over How to Handle Airbnb, Other Short-Term Rentals in Watertown

  1. Is a short-term rental the modern version of a boarding house/rooming house, without the communal dinner? If so, are there regulations on the books for rooming houses that might apply?

  2. Airbnb is out of control in Watertown. Magoon is a fool if he thinks Airbnb will manage this unwieldy beast consistently and successfully. What the town needs to do is have some kind of registration process for all property owners to report how they are utilizing their properties. And, the town has to figure out the parameters on what is acceptable and unacceptable. Currently, I do not believe that anything exists and the two town employees assigned to inspect rentals are operating on a reactive basis, in other words, if someone complains, they check it out. Owners who violate the rules would be fined steeply and without mercy.

  3. I think with regulations, it would be great to have short term rentals. For those former residents of Watertown who want to come and spend some time in their town, whom so many miss, it would facilitate coming and spending some time there. Perhaps a minimum stay regulation could be put in place, say 1 month minimum stay. Relocating back to Watertown area is impossible, but what would be delightful is to come and spend some time there, particularly for those full or partially retired.

  4. Curious, if people are putting to use space that is going under utilized how is that a bad thing?
    If residents are renting out space in there house to a visitor for a day a week or a month why is that a concern?
    If it’s a business then all business should file at the town hall as is already done.
    The only ones who can be adversely effected are the motels and hotels and they charge plenty for there services.
    I say let home owners provide there extra space and in doing so it should actually lower the cost of housing as more space is available than would have been otherwise.

  5. The issue is that in other cities where there is demand for short term housing owners can earn much more from short term rental than long term rental. The result is that apartments and buildings are turned over to short term rental and there are fewer living spaces for people living and working locally.
    Shep Ferguson

  6. I don’t understand what the issue is? Is airbnb directly affecting residents of Watertown in a negative way? If so, how? Sounds to may like it may be a way for some of our neighbors to make a little extra money. Why would you want to deny them that opportunity?

    I think offering people an alternative to pricey hotels in the area is a win for residents with visiting family and friends. There are very few affordable options for people relocating to the area who need a place for a few weeks or months. airbnb is a much needed resource for future residents to get a foothold in the area. I see many airbnb locations in my neighborhood, but I haven’t noticed any negative impact, no extra foot traffic or shortage of parking and no lurking strangers.

    I applaud and appreciate the efforts of Watertown officials for remaining open minded and trying to find a fair way to make airbnbs in Watertown work for residents, visiting guests and the people providing the space. I look forward to more conversations on the topic in an effort to find a solution that works for everyone.

    • Short term rentals destabilize neighborhoods and undermine affordable housing. Watertown would be right to regulate such uses as airbnb. It is one thing for a resident to rent a room on airbnb, or to rent your apartment while you are away, and quite another thing for an absentee landlord to purpose entire buildings to short term rentals.

  7. Most of the housing stock in Watertown was built before 1950. The housing lots are very small and have limited space for off street parking of automobiles. People did not own 2 to 4 cars per household as they do today. The streets of Watertown are choked with parked cars for most of the year because the town does not enforce its parking laws except during the winter months. Add in room rentals to the mix and there is simply not enough real estate to accommodate more automobiles in the neighborhoods. People park cars on front laws and sidewalks all over town as it is. I don’t know how adding more of this improves the quality of life for the people who live here every day. It can really ruin your day when you want to get to work in the morning and there is a car blocking your driveway. It happens all the time in my neighborhood. Emergency vehicles have to be able to move through quickly and freely through the neighborhoods at all times.

  8. The best thing to do with these rentals is to continue not
    allowing them.
    The very idea that we would let Airbnb regulate themselves is foolhardy.
    Density will be the thing that will sink our wonderful town.
    It is happening all over as we speak.
    During the last campaign, Anthony Donato suggested slowing
    development down, a great idea!
    Most of these reasons given why we should allow Airbnb are not good ones.
    I remember way back when they said accessory apartments would allow
    the little old lady in a big house help having company and pay expenses.
    Instead we had a proliferation of basements and attics being
    used tenants without proper entrances and exits, with front yards paved
    over to accommodate all the tenants.
    What about these units reducing the inventory of available units.
    I hope all the proponents of affordable housing will oppose this.
    It will have a negative affect on our neighborhoods and destabilize them.
    Why would we ever want to allow these.
    Theory and practice!!!
    Things are promoted as being so good for us, but the results are not.
    That is what will happen here, we will loose control of our housing.
    Lets think about how they will affect our town and not worry about people making money off them.

    • What if the airbnb is just a room in an owner occupied home that meets all safety codes? What if the host provides off street parking? What if that space is only used for rentals longer than two weeks? That’s not taking apartments off the market. However, it is providing a place for newcomers to town to land. It’s also providing a space for visiting doctors, nurses and professors to stay while they complete a hospital rotation or a course at one of the many local colleges. It allows the relatives of neighbors a place to stay when they come to meet their new grand baby for the first time. It brings revenue to local businesses in town. Most importantly, it’s helping this old lady, one of your neighbors, afford to stay in her home despite rising taxes and utility expenses.

  9. Laura, According to our zoning code you could have two lodgers by special permit. The zoning code does not delineate the length of time but I would guess that it has to be longer than a few days or a week. You can call Community Development and Planning for further information at 617-972-6417. Hope that helps.

    A person who rents space for living or sleeping purposes without separate cooking facilities.

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