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Maine Lawmakers Consider Bill That Would Ease Restrictions On Short-Term Rentals

Nora Flaherty
Maine Public
An Airbnb rental house in Willard Beach.

Maine lawmakers are considering a bill that would prohibit cities and towns from passing most restrictions on short-term rentals that have exploded on websites like Airbnb.

A bill sponsored by state Rep. Scott Strom, a Republican from Pittsfield, would make Maine one of a handful of states that bars municipalities from enacting anything but narrowly tailored short-term rental ordinances. Strom told the Legislature's State and Local Government Committee that short-term rentals allow Maine property owners to profit from their property and supplement their income.

"For a municipality to allow large hotels and motels to operate, but not allow residents to rent their properties for short-term guests is allowing the municipalities to pick winners and losers instead of the free market," Strom said.

But South Portland resident Linda Zweigoron said Strom's bill would prevent towns from regulating short-term rentals like those operated by her neighbor.

"I didn't gain a neighbor. Instead I got a hotel with a revolving door of people creating a feeling of uncertainty and anxiousness," she said.

The bill is opposed by most of those who testified Tuesday, including the mayors of Portland and South Portland. South Portland last year joined several other Maine municipalities to pass restrictions on short-term rentals.

The Maine Heritage Policy Center, a conservative advocacy group, supports it.

Journalist Steve Mistler is Maine Public’s chief politics and government correspondent. He is based at the State House.