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Bangor takes steps to allow, regulate short-term rentals

A series of public input sessions will focus on whether to allow short-term rentals like Airbnb properties.
Credit: Photos via Airbnb

BANGOR, Maine —

As Maine readies for spring, communities are also bracing for another tourism season. 

In Bangor, tourists have booked short-term rentals through Airbnb or other travel sites for years, but technically that form of rental is not allowed. 

“There are people that are renting this way," Bangor Community and Economic Development Director Tanya Emery said. "We know that. We are aware of that." 

Bangor Planning Officer Anne Krieg said there are roughly 100 short-term rentals in the city, many of them Airbnb properties. 

Emery and Krieg led a public listening session Wednesday in an effort to create and adopt short-term rental regulations. 

The online meeting was attended virtually by a few dozen residents including several Airbnb hosts who made the argument to allow short-term rentals with the proper regulations. 

Some said that with Maine's tourism industry suffering last summer as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, more rental options in the Bangor area could bring more visitors renting from local residents while spending money at downtown shops and restaurants. 

Other residents worried about someone buying an entire building and renting rooms or apartments through Airbnb. They said they have seen Airbnb locations near their homes and they worry they may ruin Bangor's traditional neighborhoods. 

“Being the only person in a neighborhood that lives there year-round and having that whole neighborhood being rented is a concern," Krieg said. 

City of Bangor leaders are continuing to monitor and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The City, working within its internal Incident Command team and our community partners at Northern Light Health, St. Joseph Healthcare, and Penobscot Community Health Care, along with education and social service institutions will continue to monitor, support, and provide information to our residents, visitors, and businesses.

Another factor in the discussion of short-term rentals is the issue of affordable housing in the city. 

“The Bangor market is actually less affordable than Portland, which I think shocked all of us," Emery added. 

City administrators will accept public comment by phone or email and through a public survey. A second listening session will take place Thursday evening. 

They will report the results to the city council, which will then determine a policy. 

“We’re not necessarily going to make a hard and fast recommendation, but I think we’re going to give a series of options for them," Krieg said.