A movie I recall fondly is Bedazzled, the original 1967 film with Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. (I've never seen the 2000 remake.) In the film, the protagonist, Stanley Moon (Dudley Moore), sells his soul to the Devil (Peter Cook) in exchange for seven wishes. With each and every wish, Stanley is foiled by the Devil, who gives him exactly what he wished for but not what he wanted. Observing city government, I am often reminded of this movie.
In a recent article in the Times Union, Roger Hannigan Gilson points out a couple of things that could make the "good cause" eviction law less than what those pressing for its passage had hoped for: "Tenants could be evicted if the property is being sold with the condition that property will be delivered to the new owner tenant-free. Landlords could also evict all tenants in properties with up to five units if they wanted to live in the buildings themselves." Those two situations have eliminated countless rental units in Hudson in the past and could continue to do so in the future.
An application now before the Planning Board makes one wonder about the efficacy of the short-term rental law enacted last year. The early house at 26 Warren Street, once the home of artist Edward Avedisian, has for several years now been operated as a legal bed and breakfast--five guest rooms in a house occupied by its owner.
Last April, the house was sold, and the current owner--Inns of Hudson LLC--continues to operate it as a B&B. But now the owner wants to convert the house into a ten-room hotel. The hotel would be a "self check-in and check-out operation," overseen only by the manager of some other unnamed lodging establishment in the city. That manager, wherever s/he may be, will "be able to see what is happening in the public spaces" at 26 Warren Street. The Planning Board was told at its meeting this past Thursday that "Planning Board approval is needed for the change of use only."
The public hearing on the application began on Thursday and will be continued in October. The only person to speak during the public hearing on Thursday was Phil Forman, who lives in the house next door. In his comments, he defined a micro concern--"being a neighbor to an untended hotel"--and a macro concern--"that we run the risk of being a city of strangers." Those same concerns were expressed both by aldermen and by members of the public during the year-long process of drafting the legislation regulating the development of short-term rentals in Hudson. One wonders why the legislation we now have is powerless to halt what is being proposed for 26 Warren Street.
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