southampton politics, southampton council, craig catalanotto

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Oct 20, 2015 4:21 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Opponents Of East Hampton Rental Law Lining Up

Oct 20, 2015 4:36 PM

Opponents of the proposed East Hampton Town rental registry have already begun lining up, a month ahead of the first public hearing on the newly revamped law.

A new website, StopTheRentalRegistry.com, has come online, imploring residents to oppose the rental registry legislation and listing a litany of critiques of the law that call it “burdensome, intrusive, costly” and says it will put homeowners who rent their homes at financial risk.

The website solicits signatures for a petition against the law and asks residents to write to board members, attend public hearings and vote for candidates who oppose the rental registry.

The Town Board will host its first public hearing on the law on November 19 at the American Legion building in Amagansett, a venue chosen for its capacity to accommodate the large crowds expected to turn out to voice their views on the law.

When the town introduced its first version of the law last year, throngs of residents came out in opposition to it, claiming the law would cost homeowners thousands of dollars to comply with and rob some of critical supplemental income.

Opponents have said the requirements of meeting the law were too onerous and costly for residents.

The town took the legislation back to the drawing table and brought it back this month with trimmed down requirements and the ability for homeowners to “self certify” their homes as meeting building and safety codes, without an inspection by a town official or licensed architect. But criticisms by opponents have been largely unchanged.

“[The rental registry] creates serious financial risk … for anyone who rents their home,” resident Tom Steele told Town Board members at a work session last week. “They will collect information about you that will be used to prosecute you if you get a bad tenant. It puts vacationers to East Hampton … at risk of fines up to $15,000 through no fault of their own. It is simply poor legislation and must be stopped.”

All five members of the Town Board have said that they believe some form of a rental registry law is needed on the books in East Hampton to aid town code enforcement officers in enforcing even existing home occupancy and rental ordinance. They have said the law will be a key tool in the crackdown on overcrowded housing and disruptive summer share houses.

“In my opinion, if we want to get our hands around some of the overcrowding problems we have in this community we need this tool in the tool box,” Supervisor Larry Cantwell said. “There are certainly those people who oppose it and we’ll hear from them, It will be a good public discussion.”

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