Inver Grove Heights considers prohibiting short-term rentals

With the Super Bowl six months away, there are plenty of news reports about people around the Twin Cities renting their homes to out-of-towners here for the game, and how much money they’re set to make off it.

However, those in Inver Grove Heights may not be able to provide short-term rentals of residential properties for long. At its Aug. 28 meeting, the Inver Grove Heights City Council accepted the first reading of an ordinance that would prohibit transient lodging, or rentals of 30 days or fewer.

 

Cause for concern

Tom Link, community development director, said the council directed city staff to prepare such an ordinance for several reasons.

“One is it can sometimes create conflicts where you’ve got a commercial use — a house being rented out — in an otherwise residential neighborhood,” he said.

The rentals may also cause additional traffic and higher occupant turnover, which Link said could have a negative impact on the residential area.

Short-term rentals could also lead to gatherings of large groups, people who may not own the house or even live in the neighborhood, Link said. 

“It may cause complaints to the public safety department with noise, underage drinking and other nuisances,” Link said, adding there has been a smattering of reports from neighbors of short-term rentals of such issues, as well as illegal parking concerns.

Link said the city would prohibit short-term rentals in two ways. One relates to the rental license ordinance and the other to the zoning. He added that while city staff recommends approval of the move, the Planning Commission was against the change.

“Instead of prohibiting the use, the planning commission suggested an ordinance be prepared that allows [short-term rentals], with regulations and restrictions,” he said. 

Link said the council did not want the ordinance to affect those who may rent out their home for a couple months or more during the winter, hence the 31-day rental minimum.

 

A renter’s perspective

Inver Grove Heights resident Pam Glenn said she was at the meeting to speak on behalf of those who do short-term rentals. She said she rents out her home through Airbnb, an online service that connects her to renters, and only has had positive experiences in the five years she has done it.

Glenn said she was present at her home when Airbnb guests were staying there, and that she’s gone the extra mile for those who live nearby.

“Although I’m not required to, I did notify my neighbors because I just wanted them aware. Honestly, my neighbors wouldn’t even know I was having guests for Airbnb because it was done well,” Glenn said, adding Airbnb has its own tight, well-regulated system that must be followed.

Glenn said her guests loved the community and brought money to it. 

She said the proposed ordinance is “very restrictive because of one negative situation,” calling the council’s actions reactive and pointing out there are other laws that could address any short-term rental issues. She added the change would be punitive to those who successfully do short-term rentals. 

“I feel I have the right to use my living space as I see fit,” Glenn said, adding she’d be in favor of regulating short-term rentals, instead of prohibition.

 

Council worries

Addressing the points brought up by Glenn, Mayor George Tourville said there have been multiple instances of complaints about short-term rentals.

Council member Rosemary Piekarski Krech said one of the reasons the council began looking into the issue is because interim police Chief Sean Folmar said he doesn’t have the resources or the city code backing to deal with the issues that range from underage drinking, to fights and noise complaints associated with the rentals.

Though there are currently no bed and breakfasts in the city, the council wanted to make sure such businesses, which are currently allowed with a conditional use permit, would be exempt from the short-term rental prohibition.

The council accepted the first reading of the ordinance; Tourville also asked city staff to look at what other cities consider short-term rentals.

The tentative date for the second reading is Sept. 25. A third reading is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 9.

 

Hannah Burlingame can be reached at 651-748-7824 or hburlingame@lillienews.com


 

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