It is time to respond to the latest commentary supporting Short-Term Rentals in Lake Bluff. This is not just a ‘neighbor’ issue between me and my neighbor, but a concern shared by many neighbors in the community. This is an issue where several homeowners in Lake Bluff were illegally operating transient motels. They were reported, and the Village issued cease and desist orders to each of the violators.
It is true. I do not want to live next to a transient motel – I don’t care who the owner is. And if we are being honest with each other, the vast majority of residents in Lake Bluff are in agreement with that view. In fact, there have been 100 (and counting) signatures submitted in opposition to transient motels operating in Lake Bluff; there are numerous ‘No Hotels Next Door’ signs distributed and posted all over town; there have been an abundance of notes, letters, and calls to the Village Board in favor of a ban on transient motels; there have been public meetings and debate and it has been documented at those meetings that opponents of transient motels outnumber its proponents by a 3-1 margin.
Regarding the claim that illegal transient motels have been a benefit to the Village – where is the benefit? The Village has not captured any revenue from these businesses. No license fees, no hotel tax, no permit fees – nothing. There is no proof or data that suggests the transient guests have spent any substantial sums of money in town to provide the Village with any significant revenue.
The cost of the administration and enforcement will be considerably more than any revenue realized by the Village. Is this the best expenditure of the Village’s financial resources? The Village is struggling now. The police force is on overtime based on the crime wave we are experiencing. Aging infrastructure in Lake Bluff requires major capital improvements (as is evidenced by the recent flooding) and we will likely be experiencing more cuts resulting from Illinois State budget issues. Where are the needed resources going to come from? The answer is higher taxes on everyone to subsidize the operators of the transient motels. Aren’t our taxes high enough?
The real issue here is money. The beneficiaries of transient motels are the owners / operators. They collect revenue. The Village does not collect any revenue, and the impact on the Village businesses is negligible at best. The rest of us pay with the price of increased danger to our family and homes, reduced property values, increased noise, and increased traffic. The operators are leveraging our Village and neighborhoods for their profit. Why would we allow a handful of people to dictate policy to the Village that only benefits themselves?
Regarding the impact on property values, a potential homebuyer in Lake Bluff recently contacted the Village to request all of the Airbnb locations so they would be sure NOT to look at any listings nearby where transient motels were operating. As has been previously noted at public forums, living next to short-term rental may become a required disclosure by home sellers – they must disclose to buyers if there is a short-term rental operating next door or across the street from them. This is in the same vein as disclosing radon gas, mold, basement leaks, and termites.
The proponents of transient motels contend there have been no issues, and that transient motels, aka Airbnb, are not disruptive. Please talk to the LB neighbor whose home was mistaken for an Airbnb by guests looking for the “party” on Center Ave. Please talk to the shooting victim of an Airbnb guest in Barrington Lakes. Please talk to the woman in New York that was recently sexually assaulted by her host at an Airbnb. It is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when.
Home sharing is not a fundamental property right. If that is the case, why have other communities banned it? Are they all wrong?
So please ignore the ‘neighbor issue’ as it is just noise to distract from the real issues here, which are the survival of the fabric and character of our wonderful neighborhoods and our unique Village.
My wife and I are part of the group LB Neighbors, and we will continue to help organize and support that effort. Let’s demand the Village Board ban short term rentals / transient motels immediately – what are they waiting for?