The controversial short-term Airbnb-type rentals continue to be the buzz in Lake Bluff as it is in cities across the nation, because it is disruptive. The particular conflict that plagues Lake Bluff is the intrusion of obvious commercial activity in what is otherwise a totally residential environment, the Village areas so designated.
There is enough passion to go around, but not enough reality. For the past many decades the residential parts of the Village have been designated residential. Proponents of the Airbnb are quick to point out, history of the late 19 century shows Lake Bluff as a tourist destination, and while interesting, is a completely irrelevant fact in today’s discussion and zoning considerations.
Those against the Airbnb concept invading our village have raised many legitimate concerns, not the least of which is the slippery slope that ultimately emasculates the legal and moral authority of the rule of law. If an Airbnb is OK, what else then becomes OK?
Perhaps in an abundance of passion the anti-short term rental group has put forward a rational series of concerns and risks associated with the Airbnb concept, among them; erosion of property values and marketability, safety, limited enforcement resources of existing laws, loss of sense of community.
The pro short-term rental crowd, largely anonymous or silent, except for Village Trustee or PCZB meetings, have yet to bring forward compelling reasons for, or desirability of Airbnb’s. Aside from claims of hardship and victimization from high taxes and personal tragedies that to be sure require sympathy and compassion, have no place in the conversation. Playing the “free to do what I want in my own home” card is not exactly a winner because we can all think of what you are not free to do in your own home, be illegal, immoral, and impactful to your neighbors. Free speech does not include shouting fire in a crowded theatre.
I believe most of us love Lake Bluff as it is without Airbnb’s and no reasonable case has been advanced to suggest otherwise. If we need to change some rules and laws to ensure we do not have this matter to contend with, then do so unambiguously; no rental less than 90 days and no special use permits.
So in the end we must ask, what is the benefit? We have yet to hear that answer.
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