LAKE BLUFF — Short-term rentals of residential property will soon come to a halt at least temporarily for private homes in Lake Bluff as the village studies potential regulations.
The Village Board of Trustees directed the Plan Commission & Zoning Board of Appeals to develop a report on regulations for short-term rentals during a meeting of its Committee of the Whole May 8 at Village Hall.
The board also directed Village Administrator Drew Irvin and Peter Friedman, village attorney, to craft cease and desist orders to homeowners renting rooms or their entire property through Airbnb. The order will create a moratorium until the village determines how to control the practice.
As of May 8, there were five property owners in Lake Bluff using Airbnb to rent rooms or their entire home on a short-term basis, according to Catherine McKechney, one of those involved.
Village President Kathy O’Hara said at the end of the meeting that the PCZBA will evaluate potential regulations when it meets at 7 p.m. May 18 at Village Hall. Rules could require a special-use permit for anyone who wants to rent out their home or rooms on a short-term basis. The PCZBA will further discuss concepts in June.
Irvin said he hopes the board will have a report to consider from the PCZBA when it meets at 7 p.m. June 26 at Village Hall. He said final action would not come until July.
Most of the trustees suggested varying degrees of regulation, but one, Trustee Barbara Ankenman, said she wants to see the practice prohibited.
“We need to do something and I can make a case for a ban,” said Ankenman. “The thing is we really don’t know what the impact will be. A home is the biggest investment for most people and we don’t know the impact this will have on property values.”
Though other trustees said different levels of regulation might be appropriate, Trustee John Josephitis said a license is a good idea, while Trustee William Meyer suggested only allowing a short-term rental with a special-use permit.
“A special-use permit lets us look at each application,” said Meyer. “It may be appropriate in one part of town and not right in another. We may want to look at the property size.”
O’Hara said a special-use permit is one of the things the PCZBA should research and evaluate.
“We need to gather more information to determine what is best,” said O’Hara.
Before Trustee Mark Dewart said some form of regulation is in order, he asked Lake Bluff Police Chief David Belmonte what issues officers have encountered with the short-term rentals. Belmonte said there were no complaints about people who were short-term tenants.
Sixteen people from the standing room only crowd of more than 80 told the board what they wanted to see. Of those who spoke, 11 opposed the idea altogether, two had mixed feelings and three favored it – including McKechney.
“I don’t stay in the home when I rent it,” said McKechney. “I rent it 30 plus days a year and it is a wonderful experience. I’ve never had a bad experience with any of my guests.”
Julie Astbury Capps, who lives adjacent to one of the properties that use Airbnb — not the one belonging to McKechney — said she is concerned with what is happening around her home and wants to see it stop. She said the practice is growing.
“We’ve had two for the last two years,” said Capps. “We’ve had three more in the last seven months. People are in shock. This is not something you want next to you.”
The precise timing of the issuance of the cease and desist orders is uncertain. There was some talk about 30 days among trustees at the end of the meeting.