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After complaints, Cazenovia wades into debate on allowing Airbnb, short-term rentals

A photo of Cazenovia Lake at sunset, uploaded to an Airbnb listing of a home in the village.

The village of Cazenovia is considering regulating short-term online rentals like Airbnb, after complaints from residents pressured the village board to do something. The board is trying to find a balance between bringing in outside visitors and protecting the quality of neighborhoods.

For the past several months, Cazanovia has received complaints about disruptions caused by occupiers of short-term rental properties. Mayor Kurt Wheeler said those include a large amount of people coming and going, cars blocking neighbors’ driveways, barking dogs and loud celebrations. Existing local law does not allow short-term rentals in residential zones. But Wheeler said people have been renting out properties under the radar, and some may not even realize they are violating local code. 

“We want to do everything we can to be as welcoming as possible, while at the same time, protecting the quality of life of our residents,” Wheeler said.

Cazenovia officials have been reviewing a law in the village of Skaneateles that requires short-term rentals be for a period of 30 days or more. Wheeler said at a recent public hearing, there was a significant degree of support for the rentals.

“However, the other thing that was even more universal is that they need to be carefully regulated and they need to be run well,” Wheeler said.

The village board is also deliberating over whether to permit and regulate short-term rentals in commercial zones.

"The board is learning a lot about the issue and we're confident that we'll be able to craft a solution which will both allow this new technology in some form as a great way to bring people to our community, and at the same time, create regulations which will safeguard the character of our neighborhoods," Wheeler said.

He added that there should be a level playing field between Airbnb and a traditional bed and breakfast, hotel or inn. Another public hearing could be held on any potential new legislation in June.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.