Yesterday I received a long letter in my Lake Bluff mailbox from Brenda O’Neill, a member of LBNeighbors, urging me to sign and send an enclosed letter to the Lake Bluff Villlage President and Trustees. I had, of course, seen the yard signs, but O’Neill’s letter spelled out in detail her many objections to short-term rentals, like Airbnb, in our village. Also enclosed was a letter by Dana Wittman, full of exhaustive on-line fact-finding and comment.
In spite of the density of the text, I was more impressed by the passionate tone of the letters and the suggestion of “stranger danger” that ran between the lines. A warning: we don’t know these people who spend only a few nights in our beloved village; they might be — well, anybody! Our children and our property values are at stake!
I don’t see a big risk in inviting strangers into our lives here. Small towns sometimes feel complacent and insular–a few “itinerants” now and then might be healthy. Lake Bluff is usually welcoming — we open our gates wide on Halloween and the 4th of July; we try to attract outsiders to our restaurants and other businesses. It’s good for us.
No hotels in Lake Bluff? Our early history is rich with them. In 1890 the Hotel Irving took up an entire block between Prospect and Center, rising five stories and containing shops, bowling alleys, and a billiard room. It accommondated 500 short-term guests (see Elmer Vliet’s excellent book, Lake Bluff, The First 100 Years).
I’ll send this letter to the village board instead of the handy one included in the LBNeighbors mailing.
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