Friday, April 9, 2021

Local Law Intro No. H of 2020 Revisited

Last November, the Common Council enacted Local Law Intro H of 2020, which is now § 325-28.3
 of the city code, to regulate short term rentals (STRs) in the City of Hudson. The law gave owners operating STRs rendered illegal by the law one year to convert the units to long term rentals or sell the property. Five months after the law went into effect, I was curious how many owners of properties operated as STRs in a manner prohibited by the new law had chosen to sell their property. With the help of a realtor friend, I was able to put together a list of houses, which evidence suggests were operated as STRs, that are currently on the market or have been sold since the law went into effect.
    • 72 North Sixth Street
    • 323 State Street 
    • 60 Worth Avenue
    • 63 Short Street
    • 326 Union Street
    • 22-24 South Seventh Street
    • 427 Carroll Street
    • 109 Union Street
The list is strictly a matter of post hoc ergo propter hoc. I have not contacted the owners of any of the buildings to inquire about their motivation for selling. It seems relevant, however, to note, for those who imagined regulating STRs would somehow have a positive impact on Hudson's affordable housing situation, that the lowest asking price among the houses on this list is $465,000, the highest is $925,000, and the average is $675,750.


  1. we saw this coming
    No surprises here.

  2. So no new apartments were created, B&B owners were penalized, revenue was lost from the lodging tax and housing for the visitors who support local business was reduced - all during an economic crisis - genius!

    On another topic I did observe a large pot smoking party up on 5th Street this evening. Perhaps our local govt. social engineers can designate certain areas of the city as official pot smoking areas, or are only the wealthy being targeted for social control?

    1. You have underscored the "genius" thinking in Hudson -- smoking dope does that.

      Some people think it is good for you to be stoned and manage peoples lives. i think the math is faulty, don't you.

      by killing airbnbs, we reduced city revenues and sales taxes generated by the guests.

  3. I knew a professor at Berkeley who once described the field of economics as the study of unintended consequences. Sadly, the Common Council members most likely to pay attention to the lessons from this, or most in need of the lesson, aren't running this year.

  4. 8 New houses on the market or sold for an average of $675,750 in total in 5 months. 8 new homeowners for Hudson, families maybe. I expect they will spend in Hudson too, on a regular basis like the rest of us, but the turnover at B & B's would certainly be more people, but would they be more invested in Hudson? Maybe, maybe not.

  5. What the bloody fuck does smoking pot have to do with housing?! I smoke pot. I live indoors.

    J Kay’s non-sequetor aside, the reality is this: every “pro housing” move by Galvan and Mussman has only made living in this town more expensive. Yes, the taxes are higher and the cost of a home have increased here despite their pseudo-progressive tacts and tactics. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that since Northern Empire has folded, these two “progressives” are now the largest and second-largest slum lords in Hudson — pushing up their respective net worths one imagines. Oh and I understand the mayor has a sweetheart rent deal from one of these slum promoters — how convenient.

  6. I seems like we might go back to the days of rampant slum lords, including Northern Empire and quite a few others which were at a peak when I came to Hudson in 1981. We spent a long time working to upgrade the place and are we coming full circle and retrogressing now. Dont grant Galvan a PILOT. For 40 years. It's ridiculous.

  7. Yeah, looks like that can happen. Once the uninformed tourists detect the changes (and they will), that's it! Chopping the head off the Golden Goose is easy. The current government is anti-business in a city dependent on it. Hmmm. They believe they are closing the income disparity but doing the opposite. There is no middle ground. No middle class or artists draw. Remember them? They could use housing too and reasonably priced accommodations. How in the world did this regulation pass with nary a concerted outcry? There were a squeak or 2 but where's everybody? So pretty soon the only places for visitors to stay are in high end hotels and inns. How's $500/night sound? Bed and Breakfast establishments were fine once like Croff House, Ca Mea. But now no!?! Airbnb is not much different really. They must have hosts who are rated and responsible for their properties. They impose house rules, upgrade properties with local contractors, pay taxes, fees, contribute to the maintenance industries and of course bring forth the happy customers who shop, wine & dine, explore the area and encourage more to join the fun. Oh, well.

    1. I want to acknowledge for a moment that opponents of Airbnb's prevalence in town aren't griping about nothing-rents have gone up, there is a shortage of housing, and the tourism economy is too central a component of Hudson's commercial activity. For many workers in the industry, the seasonal nature of tourism and some of the labor practices up here don't really make this a viable career industry. These are all legit beefs.

      Having said all that, this law took up a lot of public discourse and Council time at and was passed at a moment when the City is short on revenue. A lot of well-meaning work went into its passage; I'm not sure the application of the law will have the positive impact its proponents hoped for. I hope it's a learning opportunity for everyone involved as they look to tackle Hudson's next high-profile issue.

      A small town like Hudson has limited options at its disposal to diversify its economy and raise wages for workers. I hope local leaders take a long view when looking to address ways to counter displacement and make sure Hudson is a great place to live, not just to stay.

    2. The beefs you mention are neither novel nor confined to Hudson or the county. The hospitality industry isn’t prevalent here because of anything the City has or hasn’t done. It’s here because there’s demand for it. And a City run by unskilled, inexperienced and dogmatic neophytes going broke on a roughly $12m annual budget is ill prepared let alone capable of directing anything besides street theater. And derivative street theater at that.

    3. John Friedman, even when I disagree with you I usually have respect for your position, but I have to draw a line in the sand here- the unskilled, inexperienced, and dogmatic neophytes have in no way demonstrated they are capable of directing street theater.

      As to diversifying the workforce, HDC is the only governmental entity I have seen make inroads into workforce training, and progress on that front has been notably stymied by their lack of resources and focus on the disposition of KAZ, which has been an albatross around their neck since before I moved to Hudson.

      The skills are nothing without the jobs, and you are correct, there are limited opportunities in Hudson. If the same government officials who want to bring in subsidized housing at tremendous taxpayer expense actually cared anything about providing social mobility and independence to people who need it, they might have spent some time talking to Amtrak about a sliding-scale subsidy discounted monthly pass pre-tax to Albany, Poughkeepsie, or even NYC, allowing people to access job opportunities while still living in Hudson. Alas, that train may have left the station just as federal infrastructure investment is teeing up.

      If politicos in town want to help the local workforce, they could start some active discussions with employees of larger establishments to help establish a collective bargaining apparatus. The hospitality industry upstate is rife with abuses, from collusion to keep wages down and shady tip-sharing policies to owners and managers threatening staff, and that's just the front of the house. If tourism and hospitality are to be mainstays, people should have reasonable expectations that there won't be abuses by management. 

  8. Talk about killing the golden goose indeed! Since we all are drawing comparisons to marijuana for some reason, I’ll join in. As New York is finally getting with the picture with cannabis and moving away from the harmful drug war, it’s a shame to see Hudson choosing the route of prohibition against the way the wind is blowing. Whatever you want to call it, these “sharing economy” ventures like Airbnb, Uber, etc are here to stay in some form. Best to accept it, regulate it and enjoy the taxes and business revenue. Banning it just makes it go underground - look at NYC and New Orleans as examples. People list them anyway, tourist don’t know or care about the local laws and book them anyway. Cities lose potential tax revenue, and the neighbors have less transparency on who is renting out what and how to report any problems with loud guests etc. As shown here, nobody who fixed up a place for short term rental wants to be a long term landlord. Might as well sell while the upstate market is hot. At least we’ll see some transfer tax. I’m surprised the list of sales is not much bigger. I think that many of the STR owners are simply not aware of the changes in law. As a newish citizen of Hudson, if it weren’t for this blog and the Facebook group full of bitter complainers, I would not have a clue what is going on with how this town is managed. I think that weekenders and absentee property owners are even more detached from the goings on at city hall. There are some great hotels here and we used to always stay at Rivertown Lodge before we moved here, but not everyone can afford to stay there or spend $2,500 on a minimum 3-night weekend stay at the Maker Hotel (which I wish I could, especially during pool season). Short term rentals help middle class and young tourism. We need all of it, high-end big dollars and a volume of more budget minded travelers. Some on them, like me, may decide to stay, fix up a home, spend money at local businesses, and start other businesses here, beyond tourism and bring about a robust economy that we desire. And why don’t we dedicate the lodging tax revenues from STRs for affordable housing grants? Like, let’s give actual money directly to tenants (or their landlord) to help cover rent when they may fall on hard times. Yes, it won’t be enough to cover all need, but better than spent on a Tourism Board that hates tourism or another useless study to tell the Common Council what most commenters here can tell them for free

  9. Tourism : Travel for pleasure or business while making use of the commercial provision of services.

    Positive outcome: It casts a wide net and is an economic stimulus

    If Hudson's tourism economy is too central a component of commercial activity according to Mr. Kane, that just underscores it's significance to the city and region. At least it's an industry we have that developed by natural progression, a combination of demand and creative juice, in 3 decades, that is, until this debacle. It is stable and so many rely on it. This is an industry to nurture and protect, not to kill. If it needs oversight, then that should have been the goal. Industry is like that, regulation as need arises and continuous oversight. The jobs created to support the industry are widely varied. From the arts, cottage industries, agriculture and on and on. Maintaining the buildings is ongoing through all seasons. There may be a slight lull in the heart of the winter that the burst of activity the rest of the year makes up for. It's ironic how the city agencies focus so much energy on obstructing the best industry they have. If housing and additional job creation is needed, as indeed it is, there they flounder shamelessly relying on government subsidies, then and now. Bliss Towers has been in the same predicament of asbestos and general degradation for years and years. There's always some rationale from this or that agency why it's dragged on for so long. But the remedies never get off the ground in any substantive manner. Neither is there a concerted effort to attract industries that would make a good fit in the city with meaningful employment. Meantime, the tourism gift (Golden Goose) that grew with mostly private funds, is derided. Union Jack's comment is right on, I hope any number of officials take note. As for higher rental costs, all costs rise with time everywhere. An apple doesn't cost 2 cents anymore. Forces of inflation, greed and supply and demand are at work. The problem is stagnant wages since the 60's, outsourced manufacturing, overpopulation and, well, a little climate crisis. Have fun with this everyone.

    1. As a point of clarification, I was suggesting a path utilizing the revenue from the existing tourism industry to prepare the workforce and create opportunities that diversify our economy. No geese need be harmed in the implementation of this strategy, golden or otherwise.

    2. It isn’t the City’s job to do job training. That’s the schools’ and parents’ job. The City should be focused on creating an atmosphere and ecosystem conducive to attracting employers which themselves attract educated, engaged and energetic workers. Instead, we have a City government intent on making Hudson once again a city of poverty where the unemployable go for handouts. Having spent the past week trying to hire someone for a part time position that requires no special education, skill or experience for an effective wage of $40 an hour, I found exactly 1 interested person.

    3. Local Development Corporations, part of the municipal governmental framework, have job training and workforce development right in their mission statements. I would agree that we don't want City government employees training the workforce of tomorrow (How to Blow a Parks Project 101: Classes to Be Held Offline and Also Never)

      Your statement about creating ecosystems does give our positions some overlap. Local governments can provide incentives to employers with a steady marginal uptick in skillset requirements. Take for example a contract call center- You start by providing basic contact services, then eventually move products in ranging from simple customer support on consumer goods to more sophisticated technical and logistical support, at the same time branching into more complicated products like insurance and financial services. All the while, residents are acquiring new skills and can demand better wages.

      Hudson could also work with higher education institutions to bring technical training here. It would be great if the prison campus could become a place where people could learn useful job skills. (Sadly, this eliminates Bard as a partner, but I'm sure we'll manage.)