Airbnb battle heats up on Grand Island

GRAND ISLAND, N.Y. (WIVB)- The debate over short-term rentals, like those listed on Airbnb, on Grand Island has been going on for quite some time.

Last Spring the tug-of-war between the town and residents who wanted to keep their short-term rentals wound up in federal court. The residents won due to vague language in the town’s code.

More than a year later, the debate is back on the table.

Town Supervisor Nathan McMurray inherited this situation when he took office.

At Grand Island’s last public meeting, emotions ran high over the issue. The majority of residents were adamant, that the sharing economy has no place on the Island.

McMurray told News 4 he understand residents concerns; many of them are worried their neighborhoods will be affected by party houses if short-term rentals are allowed.

However, he also sees the possible benefits of allowing the shared economy to flourish on Grand Island. He told News 4 given the Island’s rich tourism history, it wouldn’t be wise to eliminate the chance for more tourists to visit through markets like Airbnb.

“We’ve got to look at tourism. And we’ve got to look not at where tourism is today but where is tourism heading,” McMurray said.

The Town Supervisor suggested a test for the town, to see if Airbnb could be regulated in a positive way. He suggested existing short term rentals (which, under a new law established by the then-existing board, would ban all short-term rentals by September) could exist on the Island if they paid a registration fee and agreed to strict rules.

Following last week’s heated public meeting though, McMurray told News 4 that idea is tabled, for now.

He’s still confident a compromise can be reached, and believes allowing short-term rentals on the Island in some capacity could be beneficial.

He’s considering an advisory committee to look into this specific issue.

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