POINT PLEASANT BEACH — Mayor Paul Kanitra is enlisting residents to support an ordinance to be considered at Tuesday night's borough council meeting that would limit short-term rentals.

The mayor said residents have been complaining over the past five years about investors buying rental homes as opposed to the traditional purchase by second homeowners. It's a trend that has led to an increase in short-term rentals with more people staying in the houses.

"We want Point Pleasant Beach to be a year-round, vibrant community with as many year- round residents as possible. The point of this ordinance is to close zoning loopholes that people have been taking advantage of making money on the backs of our year-round residents and realizing huge returns," Kanitra said.

Kanitra said home sales in Point Pleasant Beach mirror a nationwide trend of 15% of homes being sold to investors increasing in just the past two years to 25%. Plans for new homes seem to also reflect that trend, according to the mayor.

"We have houses that are literally being built just for rentals which is what my building department is telling me when they're seeing the plans. No clear master bedroom, small living rooms, small dining rooms, layouts and designs that no person who would live year- round would want," Kanitra said.

Point Pleasant Beach
Point Pleasant Beach (Bud McCormick)

Short term rentals burden the community

For every smaller house that is being torn down, Kanitra said larger homes clearly designed for many people are being put up which is a burden on neighborhoods and borough services. The larger rentals mean less parking, as what was once a rental with two cars now brings in six.

Kanitra said there were over 120 Airbnb's in Point Pleasant Beach in the summer of 2021.

"A lot of these houses are advertised as 'sleeps 21. sleeps 23.' You're taking all those cars and putting them into the neighborhoods," Kanitra said.

The biggest concern to residents is that these types of rentals take away from the vibrancy the borough is trying to create by growing the downtown and the business community, especially during the off-season, according to the mayor, who said the ordinance will help the borough in the future.

"By closing this loophole, we hope to de-incentivize these home from going in that direction," Kanitra said.

Point Pleasant Beach boardwalk
Point Pleasant Beach boardwalk (Bud McCormick)

Full court press by Airbnb, Vrbo

Kanitra said both Airbnb and Expedia, which owns Vrbo, is trying to bully what they perceive to be a small town mayor and council by rallying out-of-town investors. He cited as an example what he called "200 form emails" over the weekend received by both him and the council.

"Every email started 'protect our local economy' and had this BS argument the ordinance would hurt the local economy," Kanitra said. "Every one of those form emails was from somebody who's from out-of-town, most of which don't even own property in town."

Both companies allow people to advertise their home as available for short- and long-term rentals and earn a commission on the rentals.

"They're scared about the precedent that our ordinance would set, the fact that other mayors are already contacting us and trying to discuss how they can emulate what we're doing and that's probably why they're throwing the full weight of their lobbying resources at us," Kanitra said.

The mayor said the council shares his concerns and supports the ordinance.

In a statement to New Jersey 101.5, Airbnb spokesman Samuel Randall expressed disappointment at Kanitra's reaction to feedback from residents.

"It’s disappointing to see a mayor have such a visceral reaction to hearing from his constituents, Point Pleasant Beach residents, who are advocating for their right to share their homes and bring the type of tourism activity back to the Borough that benefits local small businesses and helps residents and voters to make ends meet."

The borough council meets at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday night.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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