Inver Grove Heights delays approving short-term rental ordinance

Council wants more information about possible restrictions

 

What was supposed to be the final reading of an ordinance that would prohibit short-term rentals in Inver Grove Heights turned into the city council deciding Nov. 27 to explore other options.

The proposed ordinance would have banned all short-term rentals of residential property for fewer than 30 consecutive days, seriously curtailing residents’ ability to rent out their property using services like Airbnb.

 

Prohibiting short-term rentals

Tom Link, the city’s community development director, said the council approved the second reading of the ordinance in September, and also requested that staff put together information on alternatives for making exceptions to the ordinance, for specific situations. 

Link said issues with short-term rentals include traffic and high occupant turnover in neighborhoods, as well as rentals being used as gathering places for parties, leading to noise disturbances, underage drinking and other public nuisances.

Link said city staff considered what other cities have done in regards to making exceptions. One way is to use an interim use permit that gives the city some authority for enforcing rules. These permits also include neighborhood notification and public hearings, as well as other restrictions on rentals.

“We believe any kind of ordinance that would allow these [exceptions] would be difficult to enforce and time consuming for staff to enforce,” Link said.

However, the planning commission previously recommended denial of the ordinance, as presented, and favored allowing short-term rentals with regulations.

 

A complex issue

Mayor George Tourville said while he sees some benefits and negatives with short-term rentals, currently, there have been more negatives for the city.

Tourville said the only reason the issue ended up before the council is because there have been enough problems that it needed to be addressed.

Council member Rosemary Piekarski Krech said she could see the city instituting a short-term licensing fee, something with teeth, so if people don’t get the license, the city can penalize them.

Council member Paul Hark said he is intrigued by using interim use permits because the council can decide what the interim period is, and people would need to come back to renew it. That would give the city a way to police rentals, he said, giving it the ability to work out issues like parking.

Link said such permitting could potentially work, though its time-consuming for city staff.

 

Plea to not ban

Mary T’Kach, a member of the city’s housing committee, said despite the public safety and quality of life issues that have come up because of one homeowner in town, the housing committee was asking the council to deny the proposed ordinance. 

“Although the city staff and council view this as a public safety issue, short-term rentals are also a housing issue. The more we started to look at this, even though we weren’t actually asked or notified this ordinance was being proposed, we did see it was a more complex issue,” T’Kach said.

T’Kach said the housing committee believes the issue should go back to city staff and the housing committee, and be given a full review of the cost and benefit to the community, as well as any unintended consequences. 

Stephen Dick spoke to the council and said he is an Airbnb homeowner. He said the proposed ban is “taking a hammer and smashing at the problem and hoping that solves the problem.”

He said he knows his property is the one that has probably garnered a lot of attention from the city. Dick said he made changes to how he rents his property, including a two-day minimum, a higher security deposit and security cameras, and said there haven’t been any further problems. 

 

Revisiting the issue

Even if the city effectively bans short-term rentals, Tourville said he worries they’ll still be done, adding the council had hoped to have an ordinance in place regarding rentals by the end of the year.

Council member Tom Bartholomew said the root of the problem is rentals are a commercial property use going on in residential areas.

With the Super Bowl in Minneapolis coming up in February, City Administrator Joe Lynch told the council the event will likely lead to more short-term rentals in the city. There is the potential the police and fire departments will have to respond to incidents, costing the city money, he said.

Whatever regulations the council may decide upon will not be in place by then, Lynch said. 

Hark said if there are issues during the Super Bowl, that will be the “nail in the coffin” for short-term rentals in Inver Grove Heights.

Council member Kara Perry said a bigger problem down the road is the new Minnesota Vikings training facility being so close — it could mean more frequent rentals instead of the possible one-time Super Bowl rentals.

The council asked city staff to explore how interim use permits and other regulations could be applied to short-term rentals, and will take up the issue another time.


 

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

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