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As short term rentals have quickly become more popular, the Lansings are scrambling to define rules that will best protect residents while still attracting tourism and trade to the municipalities.  The Village of Lansing has discussed the issue at length, prompted by complaints about an Airbnb home.  The Town is also talking about adding short term rental regulations to its laws.

"It's something that we need to consider," said Lansing Town Supervisor Ed LaVigne at the January Town Board meeting. "The city of Ithaca has theirs, the Village of Cayuga Heights has theirs. We also need to be thorough and say, how do you enforce it? Those are things that that are on our plate for this year."

The Village of Lansing Planning Board is farther along in their deliberations, but have raised more issues than they have resolved.  Board members discussed the pros and cons of recommending the Trustees create a law governing short term rentals, versus amending the zoning and noise ordinances.

"Although I think legally they can enforce a local law, they're unlikely to take an action in the field," said Village engineer Brent Cross. "It's different than issuing of a traffic ticket. If the sheriff issues a traffic ticket and it shows up in town court, that's one thing. But enforcement of the zoning law is going to take a minimum of 30 days. If somebody comes in and sees Mike and says, 'Hey, I think somebody is violating a law', Mike would have to notify them, but that person has at least 30 days before they even have to respond to him. The law has told us as code enforcement officers that it would not hold up in court if you try to force them."

Cross added that a judge is likely to go easy on a first time offender, making noncompliance fees difficult to collect.  Planning Board member Carolyn Greenwald said that having fees on the books would be helpful for property owners considering short term renting.

"My suggestion would just be to put it in here, because if somebody just wants to look up the laws, it's just easier for that person," she said.

The Board considered a number of issues, including the number of days per year a property could be rented, and the definition of who can own a property used for short term rentals.  Board members favored 'a natural person' because corporate owners are less likely to be on site to monitor and rectify problems.

"I think the real intent was to keep it away from corporations," said Planning Board Chair Lisa Schleelein. "The owner may not be a corporation."

Greenwald strongly argued that a public information session should be held to get input from villagers who may be or considering short term rentals.  She reminded the board that the property-owner against whom complaints had been made asked to be part of the process, and the Board has said that would happen.  The Board tentatively set the meeting for February 10th.

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