A Money Grab - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 1916325

A Money Grab

The mayor and trustees of Southampton Village were caught trying to slip the onerous registration law into the flimflam of their municipal dross in the hope that no one would see it, or care about it, until it was too late.

Frantic attempts by the public to even access what they were proposing were hopeless. This has roiled the village, causing distress and confusion, and spotlighting aspects of the way the village is being mishandled.

The vertiginous “spin” of information and subsequent scurrying around to make the registration and permitting law a “positive” for landlords is nauseating and takes a page from Fred Thiele’s playbook. Congratulating himself and citing his concern for the overtaxed, small-home owners, etc., Thiele touted the “advantage” of the “new” registration law that will allow local landlords to again collect full payment for seasonal rentals up front [“New State Law Drives Villages To Create Rental Registries,” Residence, March 24]. What Thiele, asleep at his post, neglects to mention is that he caused the problem for the homeowners in the first place.

Now, by specifying “registration” as a condition to return to the way rental payments were traditionally handled, he has placed insurmountable burdens on the backs of those he “cares” so much about. His double-talk is reminiscent of the old “protection” extortion, where candy store owners had to pay to avoid threatened problems just to keep eking out a living.

The Tenant Protection and the Registration Law were created to protect exploited tenants from excessive and criminal abuses by urban landlords, and to hold landlords accountable. None of this applies here. But the scent of revenue has seeped out.

This overreaching law corrects no identifiable problem. It is not about controlling AirBnB or dealing with nuisances, as the mayor is now calling around to reassure Realtors. All reckoning falls on the landlords — especially the small landlord and those who have older homes who may not want to rent but must in order to meet all the rising costs. Their option: sell. Their houses, redolent of the only charm remaining here, demolished along with their life, their land stripped and “re-purposed” for suburban luxe.

Registration is another grab for revenue, another tax. The village even included income from it in their preliminary budget before notification of any public hearing.

The cost: an egregious invasion of privacy, and an open-ended collection of personal data that can and will be sold and weaponized (every tax-collecting entity from the IRS down through the state, county, town and village, as well as your insurance company, are licking their lips in anticipation). Add in arbitrary and restrictive codes, access by “enforcement officers” and extraordinary leverage given to tenants to hassle you.

Public hearing, April 12, 5 p.m. Come. Say no!

Frances Genovese