The issue of short-term rentals in Lake Bluff looks like it is nearing a final resolution. Yet, after more than a year of discussing this issue, several unanswered questions remain.
- Where are the facts to support a “Yes” vote on this issue? Last fall, Trustees Eric Grenier and Paul Lemieux were tasked by Village President Kathy O’Hara to go in search of facts about short-term rentals so the board could make an informed decision. She stated, on the record, that she wanted to make a decision that was fact-based, not emotional. Grenier and Lemieux came up empty – there are no studies on the impact of short-term rentals on small communities like Lake Bluff, hence no hard data. What was the point of that whole exercise if the vote is going to be the same despite a paucity of facts? And why are certain board members still claiming to be “looking at the facts to reach a decision” when they haven’t presented a single “fact” to support a “Yes” vote?
- Why did our Village Board President refuse to consider a referendum on this issue? At the March 12, 2018 Committee of the Whole meeting, three Village Board members suggested the issue be decided by a referendum, so all the people of the Village have a chance to be heard. A discussion ensued, and the decision was made not to have the Board sponsor a referendum. The rationale was “turnout could be low for the election” and “only passionate people would show up to vote” and “a referendum is going to muddy the waters.” Isn’t it more likely that a lot of people will show up to vote during a gubernatorial election and give clarity on this issue? Are we to infer from this rationale that all referenda are flawed in these ways? Couldn’t those same arguments be used later against a referendum on another divisive issue, or for that matter, the Caucus, which itself is a referendum? Where is the harm in letting the people speak?
- Why has the Village Board discussed such an important and divisive issue during Committee of the Whole meetings, which are not videotaped or aired for the public to view from home? Doesn’t an issue of this magnitude deserve as much visibility as possible?
- Why has the Village continued to pursue this results-driven process even when it became clear there was substantial opposition to short-term rentals? There are thousands of residents in Lake Bluff who will never rent their homes out on a short-term basis. Therefore, it’s fair to say this draft ordinance benefits a few residents at the expense of the many. Where is the data that shows a demonstrable, quantifiable benefit to the Village as a whole?
- Why should we believe that the Village will enforce any ordinance on this issue after it knowingly ignored a violation of the existing ordinance for over a year? The Village was put on notice of the violation by the neighbor of a short-term rental and still the Village did nothing. What has changed?
- The Village Board sent the draft ordinance allowing short-term rentals to the Planning Commission & Zoning Board of Appeals (PCZBA) for their input. On March 19, the PCZBA voted 4-3 to prohibit short-term rentals. If the Village Board ignores the PCZBA’s recommendation, then the next question to ask will be: what and who is this really about?