These comments are submitted in the context of the upcoming public work sessions by the Short Term Rental Review Board and the County Council regarding short term vacation rentals in Talbot County.
There has been an unwanted short-term rental home in our community for the past four years. We have experienced many of the same problems other neighborhoods have in terms of extra noise, traffic, strangers, disrespect and discourtesy. We have found the complaint process to be onerous, time-consuming, convoluted, hard to fathom, and frustrating. Despite the code 190 changes, STR monitoring remains the “job” of neighbors, some of whom have no idea where to start. There have been some improvements due to the diligence of the Short-Term Rental Review Board. However, much remains to be done.
Access to our community is via a one lane private drive. Maintenance of this private road is shared among the homeowners who use it. There is a posted speed limit of 10 mph but no means of enforcement. Traffic on our road has increased in numbers and speed due to the STR; turnarounds in our driveway at the end of the private road have definitely increased. Renters are frequently unfamiliar with the courtesies required on a one lane private road with people, bicycles, vehicles, dogs, etc., sharing the road. On several occasions, while walking my dogs or biking, I have had to jump off the road into the ditch next to it in order to avoid a car that was zooming towards or out of the STR driveway. It can be downright dangerous. Promises have been made to post “rules of the road” in the STR. It is unknown whether that has happened, but this issue requires more than a wink and a nod. STR owners and managers must point them out and renters must read them. They should be part of the lease.
We strongly suggest that STR licenses should be granted only to applicants whose houses have public access. Put another way, a short-term rental license should not be issued if the property is located on a private road or drive or offers use of a shared pier without written approval from all property owners responsible for shared maintenance of said road, drive, or pier. It should not be the County’s prerogative to expand other homeowners’ risks, responsibilities, and expenses to enable the financial gain of nonresident owners and, increasingly, investors. As it stands now, neighbors get all the negatives associated with STRs and STR owner/investors get all the positives.
Donna and Bill Dudley