A researcher who recently conducted a poll has added grist to the mill in the ongoing discussion of vacation rentals in Chesapeake Beach.
The controversy, which surfaced last summer, has been debated by both the town council and planning and zoning commission. During a Monday night work session, Annapolis-based consultant Patrick Gonzales reviewed findings of a survey.
In a town press release distributed the following day, the “key findings” of the report highlighted town administrators were that 97% of town residents polled “report their quality of life in their town as ‘excellent’ or ‘good,’ 91% believe the town should emphasize the peace and quiet enjoyment of its residents, 93% of town residents disagree with the statement ‘Chesapeake Beach should be primarily a tourist destination first and residential community second,’ and 69% of town residents agree with the statement, ‘I would prefer that homes surrounding me remain in residential use and not be used as a short-term vacation rental housing.’”
Gonzales’ survey also found twice as many town residents believe tourists vacationing in Chesapeake Beach should stay at a hotel or inn rather than a residential dwelling, such as one rented through Airbnb.
Gonzales’ full report is available on the town website.
The town’s press release drew an immediate, stinging rebuke from resident Joshua Johnson, who has led the advocacy for vacation rentals in Chesapeake Beach.
“By cherry picking survey results, it is below the standards of transparency of elected officials,” Johnson stated. “It is an embarrassment to the office and it shows blatant disregard for the truth. You have spread misinformation and flat out lies on vacation rentals with no research done.”
Johnson added, “It would be my suggestion you deliberate retracting this until such time as all information is made available. Half truths or lies have no bearing in our community.”
During Monday’s work session, both Mayor Pat “Irish” Mahoney and Chris Jakubiak, the town’s planning and zoning administrator, dismissed the argument that vacation rentals were crucial to Chesapeake Beach’s economic development.
“It’s our residents who support our businesses,” said Mahoney, who called the merchants year-round businesses.
Jakubiak observed that over the years Chesapeake Beach “shifted from a tourism economy to what we have today, which is residential.”
One council member, Greg Morris, expressed frustration that the issue of short-term rentals continues to be unresolved and appears headed back to the planning and zoning commission for further consideration.
“Kicking it down the road is irresponsible,” Morris said. “I think the council should vote on this now. Planning and zoning voted to send this matter to council. This matter is being left to die in committee. I am strongly against sending this back to planning and zoning.”
Mahoney, however, declared there was “no sense of urgency.”
Further discussion on the issue is likely to be an agenda item for the council’s monthly meeting on June 17.