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Lake Shore: City tackling short-term vacation rental issues

Echo Journal file photo.

The Lake Shore City Council is taking steps to tackle problems associated with the rise of short-term vacation rentals in the city, commonly known as VRBOs (vacation rental by owner).

On Monday, Nov. 26, the council approved an ordinance amendment that has more detailed rules regarding residential short-term rentals than the previous ordinance. The planning commission and a subcommittee have discussed the issue and associated problems, which include enforcement of the rules. Teri Hastings, city administrator/planning and zoning administrator, told the council this is a nuisance issue.

The ordinance's purpose is to allow short-term vacation rentals of residential properties while reducing impacts on neighboring properties by implementing regulations to control such issues as length of rental time, among many others. Short-term rentals are defined as properties leased for less than one month, and properties can't be rented more than six times a year. Also, residential properties can't be rented to more than one separate party in a seven-day timeframe.

The planning commission had a public hearing where one person objected to the ordinance, saying residential short-term rentals should not be allowed at all.

Asked if Hastings has time to monitor enforcement, she said she must go through Airbnb and VRBO properties to get them registered with the city and then work to get them in compliance.

Council member Krista Knudsen asked when the ordinance amendment would become effective because people might already have bookings for 2019. The council agreed that the amendment rules would become effective Feb. 1, 2019, with the exception of rentals already booked before that date for 2019.

Hastings said there at least 20-50 short-term rental sites in Lake Shore - some people buy such sites as an investment - and there likely are more. Listings aren't limited to Airbnb and VRBO, but are on Craigslist, etc., as well.

Violations of the ordinance will include fines of $500 for a first offense, $1,000 for a second offense and $1,500 for a third offense. Three violations within a 12-month period could result in the planning commission revoking the annual short-term vacation rental permit.

Mayor Kevin Egan said the council could monitor how well the ordinance works, and possibly not allow short-term rentals at all in the future if warranted.

"I guess we have to view this as a work in progress," Egan said.