What is Residents for a Sustainable Community?

To the editor:

We don’t all think alike, we come from different backgrounds and from different parts of North Elba and Lake Placid, and we don’t all agree on solutions, but all of us who have joined together as Residents for a Sustainable Community do agree that we need to take action on the proliferation of short-term commercial rentals in our neighborhoods.

Historically, many home owners here have rented out cottages, apartments or rooms to help make ends meet. They are not the issue here. Since the owners have always been present, the rentals have never been a problem, and RSC supports them.

But today a growing number of residents are dismayed to find long-time neighbors replaced by absentee landlords and an ongoing parade of transients bringing behavior, noise and parking issues with them and leaving unattended garbage behind.

Beyond the quality-of-life issues, the commercial ventures have removed badly needed housing from the local inventory, putting properties further out of reach of such as teachers, firefighters, postal carriers, volunteers and neighbors – the very people needed to make up a community.

The deleterious effects have been borne out in the recently released Community Housing Needs Assessment by Camoin Associates commissioned by the North Elba/Lake Placid Joint Housing Committee. We are grateful to members of the committee for their efforts to bring the scope of the habitat problem into measurable form.

Startling facts presented by the study include the loss by Lake Placid village of 136 families or 19 percent of its households between 2000 and 2017. School district statistics are even more alarming as enrollment has dropped 31 percent for a loss of 284 students during that same time frame, a trend that threatens the very existence of the district.

Ironically, the housing code, as it currently stands for the village and town, has not and does not allow short-term rentals in residential districts, but that code is currently being amended to legitimize them. Reportedly the proposal to make them legal, while implementing controls and restrictions, would permit them to operate approximately 90 days a year.

We do not believe these measures will be enough to stem the ongoing conversion of our precious housing stock to commercial businesses benefitting absentee landlords, or to counter the loss of people needed to work and take part in the life of our community. Action on these measures is expected soon, which is why it is important for everyone to join in and be heard now.

We welcome all of our neighbors from throughout the township and village to come to one of our meetings and to contribute to the discussion. Meetings are usually held Thursday evenings at 7 at St. Eustace Episcopal Church in Lake Placid. Information and updates are available at our new Residents for a Sustainable Community page on Facebook. We also hope to have a comprehensive web page up soon. Or contact us at lakeplacidrsc@gmail.com to confirm meeting dates.

We look forward to working with you help protect an increasingly threatened species: the North Elba and Lake Placid local.


Lisa Forrest

On behalf of the Residents for a Sustainable Community