I recently moved from the Detroit area with my wife and 2-year-old daughter. As we began to familiarize ourselves with the North Shore area we fell in love with Lake Bluff. The idea of a small, incredibly safe town where we knew our neighbors was a perfect place to raise our daughter.
After we moved, I began to notice the “No hotels next door” signs popping up. I thought to myself, “Its not election season …” (although that seems to be perennial now). The issue that was raised by the signage was a debate over short-term rentals in Lake Bluff.
My initial thought was, “Why would anyone care?” I thought about it a little bit, and started doing research, and, the bottom line is that, I think people should care! (Hence … this letter).
Short-term rentals can be wonderful for an area, for obvious reasons. Short-term rentals are directed at tourists who should spend money at local businesses and possibly bring in income to the renters (however, they may not actually live in the area where their rental property is located).
My concern is quite simple, Lake Bluff (and the North Shore in general) do not have a high turnover of homes with even long- term rentals. After moving from Detroit we lived in a busy part of Skokie for 3 years until we moved to Lake Bluff. The main reason we wanted to move was for a quiet and quaint area. When people are on vacation and live in a short-term rental (which could be next to your house) it may be Monday night to you, but it is Saturday night to them. This could legitimately alter the character of the community, and since short-term rentals are so lucrative to those doing the renting I worry that the change to the area is just a matter of time without intervention.
I wondered if there were other areas that thought about these issues. Even within Lake Bluff itself, the subdivisions of Tangly Oaks, Armour Woods, and The Sanctuary all have clauses that forbid rentals less than 90 days (and in some cases 1 year). Legislation has been passed in Lake Barrington, Mattawa, and Park Ridge that does not allow rentals less than 90 days.
I understand arguments regarding property rights. However, the rights of the community must be taken into consideration. People have no oversight when they rent their house with Airbnb or similar companies. The company does not care who they rent to, or what happens in the area. The fact that the cost of policing would go up, or that the city would be liable if the rental would be sued is not a factor to the company or to the renters (who would not pay local taxes on this increased income).
Additionally, it will likely be mandatory to disclose if your neighbor is running a short-term rental when residents go to sell their house, and even if it does not become mandated, that was a concern that was raised by buyers when we sold our house in Skokie, and also we raised the issue when we bought our house in Lake Bluff. If you are like me, you’re not going to be interested in buying a house next to what is essentially a hotel, no matter how much it is discounted.
The bottom line is that short-term rentals can irreversibly alter the character of the community, and that is something that personally we moved to the North Shore for, and something that the community should help defend.
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