Despite Overwhelming Defeat, ACK Now Insists Short-Term Rental Restrictions Will Eventually Pass

Just hours after ACK Now suffered a stinging defeat at Saturday’s Annual Town Meeting, when voters slammed the door on its bid to restrict short-term rentals on Nantucket by more than a 2-to-1 margin , the group vowed to bring back a similar proposal at next year’s Town Meeting.

“Nantucket will regulate short-term rentals, it’s not a question of if, but when,” ACK Now executive chairman Tobias Glidden said. “Homes are for people, not investors. A balanced article will be back next year and we will continue that work this year. ACK Now believes we can all come together and have a reasonable bylaw in place as so many communities have done.”

But judging by Saturday’s vote and the sentiment expressed by the more than 600 island residents who voted against Article 90, Glidden and ACK Now will have a difficult road ahead.

“The people who try to make Nantucket even more elitist than it is now don’t seem to understand that part of what they love about the island is created by the people they don’t see: the housekeepers, the repair men, the landscapers, many of whom would lose their livelihood if Article 90 was passed,” said Rebecca Settar, who was one of those “No” votes on Saturday. “There would surely have been a devastating trickle down effect, and I’m so glad the buck stopped where it did.”

Funded by summer resident Peter McCausland, of Philadelphia and Florida, ACK Now was formerly run by David Worth up until his purchase of the Inquirer and Mirror in late 2020 with a group of investors known as 41 North Media LLC. The newspaper covered the proposal to restrict short-term rentals extensively in recent months, but on May 20 ran an editorial urging island residents to vote against it, but at the same time called for a group to convene and craft “sensible regulations” to stop investors from buying and renting Nantucket properties.

In an e-mail communication released last night, ACK Now executive director Julia Lindner targeted the island real estate community for the defeat of Article 90, and stated the group was prepared for “a couple of years” of effort to enact restrictions on short-term rentals.

“Article 90 was the underdog facing a real estate industry in control of local government and voters heavily lobbied by big corporations spreading misleading information,” Lindner wrote. “We’re hopeful the real estate community will come around and help prevent investors from taking over the island.”

While Lindner did not identify the “big corporations” in e-mail communication, she responded to an e-mail from the Current and said she was referring to Airbnb and Expedia, which she claimed used e-mails and ads to target islanders who utilize those platforms as hosts.

The opposition groups that formed over the past few months – Nantucket Together and the Alliance to Protect Nantucket’s Economy – both celebrated the defeat of Article 90 over the weekend.

“I was really glad to see Article 90 fail, obviously, mostly because I’m glad voters saw it for what it was: a divisive policy that puts neighbor against neighbor depending on their financial need,” said Henry Sanford, an island real estate agent and hotel manager who was part of the Nantucket Together group. “It also would have defunded the town, limiting any affordable housing solutions in the future. I think there is a resounding consensus that funds are needed to complete projects laid out by the town, and that short-term rentals are important to our way of life and economy on Nantucket.”

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