Village of Lake Bluff Committee of the Whole met January 27.
Village of Lake Bluff Committee of the Whole met January 27.
Here is the minutes provided by the Committee:
The Village of Lake Bluff Board of Trustees met as a Committee-of-the-Whole (COW) in the Village Hall Board Room (40 East Center Avenue) on Saturday, January 27, 2018. Village President O’Hara called the meeting to order at 8:00 a.m. Village Clerk Joy Markee called the roll.
The following were present:
Village President: Kathleen O’Hara
Trustees: Barbara Ankenman
Also Present: Joy Markee, Village Clerk
Drew Irvin, Village Administrator
Peter Friedman, Village Attorney
Glen Cole, Assistant to the Village Administrator
Short Term Rental Regulation Workshop:
Village President O’Hara thanked those members of the public present for their attendance. She provided an overview of the agenda, noting that the Board will hear a presentation; the Board will ask questions of the presenters; the public will have a short time to ask clarifying questions regarding the presentation; the Board will deliberate; and the meeting will conclude with public comment. She invited Trustees Grenier and Lemieux, who have been studying the short term rental issue, forward to present.
Presentation – Trustees Grenier and Lemieux:
Trustees Grenier and Lemieux presented the slideshow previously shown to the Board of Trustees regarding their review of short term rental regulations. They reviewed the history of short term rentals in Lake Bluff and the rise of the sharing economy. This activity is occurring in a market context wherein short term rentals are expanding at a rapid rate with a number of platforms emerging. Airbnb presently has the largest market share, but many others are in competition. They described the rating system that Airbnb users use to evaluate hosts and guests on the platform. They believe the draw to the North Shore and Lake Bluff is very low, as this area is not a tourist destination nor will it become one. They provided a brief review of data and statistics available regarding short term rentals, as well as case studies from other communities. Much of the literature on this topic is written about places like San Francisco, which makes it hard to find comparisons with communities that are true peers of Lake Bluff.
The Trustees discussed the would-be users of Lake Bluff’s short term rentals, whom they describe as “Purposeful Visitors.” Among others, the Trustees cited the relatives of residents, families visiting Great Lakes Naval Base graduations, and visitors to Abbvie, Abbott, and other local corporate headquarters.
They believe that serving this market would be a good thing if the Village can avoid other short term rental downfalls.
The Trustees discussed possible regulatory paths – Regulate, Do Nothing, or Prohibit – to pursue in regards to short term rentals and described some of the reasons a community may choose one path or the other. The Trustees chose to examine aspects of regulation the Village could adopt rather than discuss the idea in the abstract. They asked, “How can the Village allow this activity and reap the benefits but not be overwhelmed by short term rentals in town? What works to accomplish these objectives?” They hope to facilitate a conversation around this goal. They presented excerpts from the 2023 Strategic Plan values as context for this conversation.
The Trustees discussed their objectives in proposing a policy. They want policy that does not turn Lake Bluff into a tourist area; that is mindful of the character of the Village and of trends in the sharing economy; that does not turn homes into party houses; that minimizes public safety risks; and that protects property rights. They noted that there are compelling arguments about these principals on both sides of this issue. They continued to discuss more objectives: they desire policy that will help, not hurt the tax base and property values and discussed arguments regarding short term rentals supporting or detracting from this goal. They desire policy that does not negatively impact people not involved in the sharing economy; policy that is simple and flexible; and policy that supports local businesses by bringing people in that spend money. They noted that a policy could be tweaked and changed, and nothing prevents them from revisiting a policy.
The Trustees returned to the idea of different regulatory paths, and argued that the Board should eliminate “Do Nothing” as an option. The Village’s currently policy would be difficult to enforce, and they believe it would tend to inspire underground markets that perpetuate the sharing economy regardless. A prohibition would have to carefully deal with this reality. Likewise, they believe that if the Village desires to allow and regulate it, the regulatory scheme must support this activity and not kill it. They noted that the peer-to-peer relationships inherent in Airbnb’s model of mutual ratings are more self-regulating than owner-customer relationships, and that excessive regulation can interfere with how those relationships function. The Airbnb model helps regulate who rents, who puts their home on the short term rental market, and negatively incents those things that are detrimental to the host community.
The Trustees introduced their framework for the Board’s regulatory discussion. This framework is not an attempt to write regulations and did not involve the Village Attorney, but is meant to encourage the Board’s high level conversation.
The Trustees proceeded to provide the Board with a point-by-point overview of the handout they provided which explained this concept of a regulatory framework. The Board discussed the nature of enforcing a prohibition. In response to a question by Trustee Ankenman, Village Administrator Irvin believed the cost of retaining a third-party service to do so would be less than $5,000 annually. Trustee Lemieux discussed the difficulties in enforcing a prohibition when, under the current Village policy, advertising is not actually engaging in a prohibited act. He stated that communities struggle with a prohibition. Trustee Grenier stated that communities that tend to allow it try to minimize the depth of their regulation, and tend not to struggle with administration.
Trustee Lemieux asked that they explain each point first, and then conduct a Board discussion. Village President O’Hara concurred.
The Trustees proceeded to explain their recommendations regarding a requirement that the short term rental be the primary residence of the owner for at least 275 days per year; and that the owner either occupy or have a local contact during all short term rentals. Trustee Grenier expressed that he believes requiring the owner to be present may defuse many of the pitfalls of short term rentals.
The Trustees proceeded to explain the other recommendations for a regulatory framework.
Presentation Questions – Trustees:
At their conclusion, the Board recessed at 9:10 a.m., and reconvened at 9:17 a.m. The Board proceeded to discuss the framework.
Trustee Meyer asked what the maximum fine would be for a violation of the code. Village Attorney Friedman responded that the Village’s home rule authority gives it wide latitude in setting a maximum fine, subject to due process. He believes that the Village is likely to survive a legal challenge to their ability to regulate or fine regarding this activity. Trustee Ankenman stated that, unfortunately, one policy objective for many of the Board’s decisions must be to minimize legal liability. Trustee Meyer said it was also important that the Board uphold the rule of law.
Trustee Meyer asked what the occupancy limit is today for a single family residence. Village Administrator Irvin was unsure of the exact regulation. Trustee Meyer stated that he was concerned about life safety for short term rentals.
Trustee Meyer asked if there was any update regarding proposed state legislation that would remove the Village’s ability to regulate short term rentals. Village Attorney Friedman said that the legislation had been reintroduced, but had not been considered at this time. The legislation is being promoted by sharing economy companies who would desire to remove the ability of local governments to regulate these activities, including home rule communities. The group discussed the limitations that this legislation would impose. Village President O’Hara expressed her frustration with the proposal and interference in local affairs.
Trustee Towle asked why the framework did not recommend requiring the owner to be present in the home. Trustee Lemieux said that short term rental users may not want the owner present and may prefer privacy. The Board discussed this requirement.
Trustee Dewart discussed the limitation of ten occupants and if a short term rental policy should scale this requirement based on the number of bedrooms. He discussed the idea of a party house and compared it to the idea of neighbors down the street attending a party, which is not considered intolerable.
Trustee Meyer discussed life safety requirements. He believes that users need to know how to escape, including by providing signs and lighting. Trustee Dewart said that the Board may adapt the requirements of the Illinois Bed and Breakfast Act. Trustee Meyer concluded by saying that some fears surrounding short term rentals may be unlikely, but fires happen often.
Village Clerk Markee asked how a non-emergency hotline would be operated. Village Administrator Irvin said that, today, those calls could be routed to Glenview central dispatch. He said he would have to review that arrangement with Glenview, the contractual provider of dispatch services, if the policy proceeds to the Board.
Presentation Questions - Public
Village President O’Hara stated that interested members of the public may ask questions of the presenters regarding the presentation.
A resident came forward to address the Board and asked the following questions:
• During the presentation, the Trustees said that the reasons town prohibit short term rentals did not seem applicable to Lake Bluff. However, they also said that some concerns would apply to Lake Bluff. She asked that they summarize the reasons various towns prohibited short term rentals. Trustee Grenier responded that there were concerns regarding property values, the character of towns, and life safety. They looked closely for indications that communities had studied this issue and chose to prohibit it when they couldn’t figure out effective regulation, but most case studies did not match that narrative. He stated that they set aside these issues not because they were not applicable to Lake Bluff, but because they were not specific concerns. The resident asked a follow-up question as to if there was any demonstrated effect on property values. Trustee Grenier responded that they could not find evidence regarding property values. He said the most common theme with supporting data was the idea that short term rentals could crowd out a residential housing market. He also discussed the case of Anaheim, California and their relationship with their tourism and hotel industry.
• She thanked the Trustees for their time and consideration.
• She asked why the non-emergency number would be directed to police dispatch even if there was a desire to not have the police enforce this ordinance. Village Administrator Irvin responded that there would be further discussion internally and with Glenview on this issue.
• She asked if the regulations would allow the leasing of accessory structures, such as a treehouse. Village Administrator Irvin responded that the Village’s zoning code precludes maintaining a second residence on the property. The Village’s code aims to manage the intensity of use on a residential lot, and introducing multiple families residing on a single lot is inconsistent with that aim. Trustee Grenier noted that there may be benefits to allowing that arrangement, as the owner residing on site but separate from short-term rental users preserves the user’s privacy while ensuring that the owner would intervene in nuisance behavior.
• She asked the Board to consider requiring guests to have a dated parking permit on their dashboard that would include the non-emergency hotline for complaints. She does not believe neighbors should have to hunt for this contact information. She asked if a recreational vehicle could be lawfully parked as part of a short-term rental; Village Administrator Irvin summarized the Village’s prohibition on recreational vehicle parking.
• She stated that the neighborhood needs to be made aware of these activities, and believes that the Village should notify the surrounding area of neighbors similar to the zoning variation process.
A resident came forward to address the Board and asked why the Trustees chose to recommended a $100 fee and separate proof of insurance. Trustee Grenier responded that $100 was a common fee level and could fairly compensate the Village for the cost of inspection. Village Administrator Irvin compared this fee level to $50 driveway permits, and said that the Village could raise this fee higher in lieu of administering a percentage tax. Trustee Meyer discussed the issues inherent in the insurance requirement the Board would choose to impose, as many policies a broker wrote may not cover this exposure.
From the audience, Mr. Frank Klepitsch (resident) stated that he contacted an insurance broker to write a policy for short term rentals and was refused coverage. He asked who would be responsible and adequately trained to review the insurance certificates. He continued to discuss a variety of life safety concerns and believes short term rentals should be required to provide fire suppression systems and a second floor egress. He is a licensed architect who previously designed for a major hotel chain. From the audience, Ms. Kathy McKechney (resident) stated that Airbnb provides $1 million in appropriate liability coverage for lessors. Village President O’Hara advised that comments should be withheld until the conclusion of the workshop. Mr. Klepitsch asked why the Village would allow a short term rental to be operated without a fire suppression system when it requires them to be installed in new homes. Village Administrator Irvin stated that the Board desired to have questions asked regarding the presentation and move onto its discussion. Trustee Grenier stated that there is a tension between preserving safety and the viability of short term rentals, and that a policy that aims to regulate and not prohibit cannot be designed so as to make short term rentals impossible. As members of the public began to comment, Village President O’Hara again stated that comments should be withheld and that this meeting is not meant to be a public debate, but rather a Board discussion.
Mr. Peter Capps (resident) addressed the Board. He discussed the presenters’ concept of “purposeful visitors,” and asked how that market is being served today. He asked if the presenters studied this subject at all, and does not believe they did. He believes this is a solution looking for a problem. He asserted that Lake Bluff has accommodated these visitors without the sharing economy for 50 years. Trustee Lemieux responded that there was no study, but that these services are an opportunity to serve these users better. There may be adequate rooms in the area, but users have higher expectations. Trustee Grenier added that their presentation was driven by community feedback they received. He heard from Lake Bluff residents who wanted to bring families to stay near them and were stopped when the Village imposed its cease and desist order. He explained why a user may find a short term rental a more attractive option than the area’s hotels. He stated that this was not a comprehensive study, but useful feedback.
Mrs. Herman (resident) stated that she understands there were five short term rentals in Lake Bluff. She asked what the maximum growth is anticipated to be for short term rentals. She understands that there is a balance between providing this market and not letting it grow so large as to endanger Lake Bluff’s small town quaintness, but she believes five is too many as it is. She believes the Village’s goal should be for families to live in that home, pay a high value for it, invest in Lake Bluff’s schools, and so on. Trustee Lemieux responded that they do not know how many would operate in Lake Bluff. There were five unregulated, and it is unclear if regulation would create more or fewer. This activity is getting more popular, but they have already heard that some operators would be uninterested under the regulation they propose. Ms. Herman began to ask a follow-up question, but Village President O’Hara advised that they needed to move to the next question in the interest of time.
Ms. Liz Jensen, resident, asked if people who were not primary residents could use their homes as a short-term rental. Trustee Grenier said the Board would have to deliberate on this.
A resident came forward to address the Board. He is unsure why the Board is even considering this policy if there is not a clear benefit to the Village. He believes the fee should be much higher. If the Village charged $2,500 per year for a license, perhaps it would be a wise investment to spend $5,000 per year on monitoring short term rentals. He believes that short term rental users will not just be professors or family members, but will include the full gamut of renters including unwanted guests and criminals. If the Village desires this risk by choosing to regulate short term rentals, and by doing so risk changing the neighborhood character for do-it-yourself motels, he believes the Village has to make sure there is a benefit. Trustee Grenier responded briefly that their presentation reflects what they heard from the community, and that it is not designed to maximize financial return.
At about 10 o’clock, Village President O’Hara closed the period for public comment. She discussed the next steps in the meeting and the consideration of this item, and said that she hopes there is movement towards an end to this issue today. She asked the public allow the Board to deliberate.
Trustee Ankenman asked that the Board continue to take public comment. She is uncomfortable doing anything that a resident feels hasn’t been discussed fully. She would love to hear the Board’s opinions but wants to hear public comment now for anyone to say something new, unique, different, or important. Village President O’Hara responded that she is fine with public comment, but does not want the discussion to devolve into a debate. She reiterated that there would be more time for public comment. Trustee Lemieux believed that the Trustees should have some time to discuss their positions, as those would influence the public comment that would follow. Trustee Ankenman agreed.
Trustee Meyer thanked the presenters for their time and attention to this issue. He believes that the Board needs a better idea of what the impact of short term rentals will be – positive, negative, or otherwise – before the Board decides what the community’s best interest is. He has not yet decided whether he would prohibit or regulate. He believes the Board should not act until they know the impact, even though he does not desire to create more work or drag the process on. He believes the Board should engage in its own study if an applicable study does not exist. He discussed various methods the Board could use to empirically study this issue, including home value research and surveying. Trustee Towle responded that he did not believe legitimate data was available, but anecdotally what he hears from would-be homebuyers supports prohibition. Trustee Ankenman said that this study would prove very difficult due to how few transactions there are to study. Trustees Ankenman and Meyer discussed the functioning of efficient real estate markets.
Trustee Ankenman said that she would preserve the status quo and continue to prohibit all rentals shorter than 30 days.
Village Clerk Markee stated that she surveyed a handful of people aged 30 to 55 throughout the Terraces and east Lake Bluff. While some people were at either extreme, her sense is that most people thought short term rentals would be positive for the Village if done correctly.
Trustee Towle said that he heard apathy about short term rentals in the Village, but absolute opposition to the idea of a short-term rental next door. He believes that this is a reality, even if it may seem like protectionism or fear of the unknown. He believes that the Board needs to protect Lake Bluff’s neighborhoods.
Trustee Dewart said that he would be willing to entertain a trial program that provided appropriate safeguards to the community. He has lived in Lake Bluff for 35 years, and has invested considerable thought in how he would feel about this. He has personally used short term rentals in a very residential neighborhood and does not believe it needs to be the intimidating process that the community has allowed itself to believe it to be. He discussed a St. Joseph, Michigan study that found that short term rental spending generated a high multiplier effect in food, entertainment, and retail expenditures entering that community from visitors. He is unsure whether those effects would be stronger or weaker in Lake Bluff, but he is willing to try. In response to Trustee Meyer, Trustee Dewart stated that he cannot find any studies on property value but he knows that the time has come for the Board to make a decision and move forward onto other issues. He discussed some of the practicalities of regulation, including life safety; commercial insurance; minimum stay; enforcement; the consequences of violations, which should be sufficient to discourage them; and the idea of a time limit as part of a trial or pilot program. He believes this is a reasonable approach.
Responding to Trustee Dewart, Trustee Ankenman discussed the concept of marginal cost versus marginal benefit. In her conversations, she has heard that “Gee, this would be nice to have” as well as “PLEASE, don’t do this” and the latter group weighs much more heavily on her decision. This is one of the most contentious issues she is aware of and is dividing Lake Bluff. The financial benefits of allowing short term rentals are insignificant compared to Lake Bluff’s budget, but the emotional effects are not insignificant to the Lake Bluff community.
Trustee Meyer asked Village Attorney Friedman why the Village should treat this differently than a traditional bed and breakfast. Village President O’Hara described the history of transient lodging in Lake Bluff. Village Administrator Irvin said that there has never been a traditional bed and breakfast in Lake Bluff, but that a planning study of the Central Business District recommended the Village authorize them in the zoning code.
Trustee Grenier stated that the only way he sees to get further valid data about short term rentals is to allow them. He believes it is early enough in Lake Bluff that the community can successfully experiment with this idea and daylight the sharing economy that is emerging. He does not believe Lake Bluff will become a big tourist destination, but he believes that short term rentals will continue to grow. He explained that he sees conflicting information about property value as well as property tax. One of his goals as a Trustee is to reduce property tax pressure and the financial stress it causes for some Lake Bluff families. Allowing short term rentals could have serious positive impact and allow those with fixed income to stay in their house longer. Residents could make thousands of dollars over the number of rental days contemplated by the framework. He believes that the Board should adopt an ordinance, and is fine with structuring it as a pilot program or with a time limit. He discussed his negative experience with long term renters, and does not believe the length of rental is a good indicator of being a good neighbor.
The Board continued to discuss the raised issues. Trustee Towle asked what the Board should tell someone whose property values drop due to short term rentals. Trustee Lemieux said he would rather buy a home next to a short term rental than next to a chicken coop, which the Board recently allowed as a pilot.
Trustee Meyer said he believes the Board is split three to three. Village President O’Hara would break the tie.
From the audience, Mr. Frank Klepitsch (resident) said he believes the study was biased by the two trustees who now support regulation. He believes another study should be conducted that has one trustee in favor and one opposed. Trustee Lemieux responded that he opposed short term rentals when he was first asked to participate. Trustee Grenier responded that he wanted to put an ordinance together and have everyone see the result before they made a decision, and told Mr. Klepitsch as much when they met. Mr. Klepitsch asked if there will be a further review, and said that building and fire safety officials should express their opinion on this issue. He asked if the Board intended to hold a referendum, as had been suggested by a member of the Village’s Plan Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals when this issue was before them for consideration.
From the audience, Mrs. Patricia Havrin asked the chair to restore order. Village President O’Hara asked the public to cease commenting until it was time for public comment.
Village President O’Hara addressed the Board and the public. She stated that she is a renter, but as Village President, that she is concerned with the Village’s values as well as its character and how it treats each other. She does not enjoy the contention with which this issue has been argued in the public. She acknowledges that each person has emotions, and stated that this is why she asked two trustees to look at this thoughtfully and bring clarity to the discussion. The decision is split, but she believes this is healthy, and demonstrates the independence of the Board and that it is okay for us to differ. She believes the arguments on both sides are good and make sense. However, unlike ordinary issues, she is now asked to vote. She is in favor of asking for a draft ordinance that will serve as a limited time pilot and that will incorporate all the comments that have been heard, and then in returning to the Board and the community for more dialogue. She stated that Lake Bluff is a thoughtful community, but that this issue should not detract from more serious issues facing the Village, such as interference by the state; the continued viability of a volunteer fire department; the erosion of beaches and ravines; flooding issues; and the search for diversifying revenues away from the property tax. She concluded by asking that the community continue to uphold the principles of civility and respect.
Village Administrator Irvin stated that Staff would prepare an ordinance for consideration at an upcoming Committee of the Whole.
Mr. Peter Capps (resident) addressed the Board. He asked if an ordinance would also be drafted to ban short term rentals. After some discussion, Trustee Ankenman restated the request as asking for an ordinance that daylights it and regulates it, as well as an ordinance that thoughtfully implements the current restrictions of 30 days or less. She believes it is only fair that they have two things to compare. Trustee Lemieux concurred. Kathy thanked the commenting trustees and Mr. Capps. Mr. Capps responded that they should show something as well thought out and demonstrating as much effort as the proposed regulations.
Mr. Michael Goldsberry (resident) addressed the Board. He asked what the Board would do to distinguish between online marketplaces and neighbors arranging short term rentals with neighbors. He also said that, based on his experience as a member of the Plan Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals, he is unsure of why this is a good policy to pursue. He does not believe it is contemplated in the Village’s Comprehensive Plan, and that developments such as Stonebridge may address some of these concerns in the future.
Mr. Robert Havrin (resident) addressed the Board. He said that he is sick of this issue and complemented the presenting Trustees (Grenier and Lemieux). He discussed various legal and philosophical issues he sees with how this issue has been handled and said that this is not a simple issue. He believes that small towns have a tendency to create a vague ordinance and enforce it selectively against people who lack power and influence. He discussed parking, property values, and some of the renters he and his wife (Patricia Havrin) hosted before the cease and desist was issued. Those renters included doctors with local corporations, pro golfers, and a former resident whose gift was a stay near her childhood home on Center Avenue until the Village issued the cease and desist letter last year. They host quality guests, are insured, and are familiar with tough tenant situations based on their experience with landlord-tenant laws in Massachusetts. He believes the Board has all the information they need to make an intelligent and informed decision. He thanked the Board.
Mrs. Patricia Havrin (resident) addressed the Board. She believes that the Village can require short term rental listings to display a registration number to avoid spending $5,000 annually on a monitoring service. She spoke with the Federal Housing Administration regarding occupancy limits and they advised her that they allow well in excess of what the Board now considers as a limit. She stated that the Havrin family has always given a substantial discount to people staying longer than 30 days, and does not think there are many people who would operate short term rentals. She is not familiar with any town that bans home sharing, which she considers a centuries old practice. She was able to obtain insurance and uses technology that alerts her when there is smoke or water in her home, which contributes to the safety of renters and her ability to monitor rental activity.
Ms. Susan Rider (resident) addressed the Board. She stated that she is here to speak for people who are not operating short term rentals nor who are vehemently opposed. She believes it is important to pay attention to the people quietly watching us, and that the Village has to find a reasonable way to allow this activity. She expressed her appreciation for the study of Trustees Grenier and Lemieux, and opposes any continued study without adopting a pilot program. She believes that continued study would be paralysis by analysis, and that there will be no definitive answer to be found as to how this activity affects property values. She asserted that the signs throughout town are counter to promoting Lake Bluff as a welcoming community. Speaking in regards to the regulatory framework, she believes that registration is a great idea but that taxation is too hard to enforce. She believes that the Village should require lower fees of residents who only rent a room and not their whole house. She also believes that the limit should be set at 12 instances or 84 days, whichever comes first. She supports establishing the regulations as a pilot program, and believes a sunset date would give the community a period of calm and a chance to evaluate what will happen due to short term rentals instead of speculating about what might happen. She believes there are both good and bad externalities due to short term rentals, and banning us asks us to ignore the positives, including the benefits of meeting new people and opening Lake Bluff’s bubble. After the pilot period, the Village can look back and figure out what actually happened in the community.
Trustee Ankenman, responding to Ms. Rider, asked why she was endorsing changing the ground rules that every person who bought their home accepted as part of the transaction. She believes this is a fundamental change for every resident and their expectations. She said that part of her research was speaking to her children and family, and her son was a big fan of short term rentals. She has heard some people who believe it is hypocritical to use short term rentals elsewhere and be opposed to them here. She wanted to go through that exercise and not be accused of being ignorant or opposed to change. She believes there is a difference between these activities in a vacation town or destination and these activities in a town where people would not be expecting that behavior. She doesn’t want policy dictated by complainers or by people who are worried about being hypocrites.
Ms. Rider responded that she just finished staying in a Wisconsin Frank Lloyd Wright house that would have been torn down except that operating a short term rental made the property economically viable and allowed her and her architect father to visit. In response to Trustee Ankenman’s comments about expectations, Ms. Rider stated that she did not expect a vibrant business community, a three story building, or a renewed Central Business District when they moved to Lake Bluff. She believes these are positives, and part of living in society and not in a bubble. She believes that people who are concerned about these changes can find a place to live that is more consistent with their beliefs. She does not want that to happen, but she does not believe the Village can live in the past. She concluded by saying that she wants Lake Bluff to be a place where people feel welcome and invited, and that the signs and discourse on this topic do not further that objective.
A resident addressed the Board. He thanked them for their hard work. He believes this discussion is not about regulation, but rather, it is about deregulation. He believes proponents are asking the Village to throw away generations of rules to enable do-it-yourself hotels. He gave negative examples of the effects of deregulation. He said that, if the Village wishes to move forward with this activity, it should only be in multifamily zoned areas and prohibited in residential areas.
A resident addressed the Board. She wants to end this issue, and not to protract it. She believes that short term rentals were not a problem until there was one instance of misbehavior that attracted the community’s attention. She said that short term rental operators were opening their homes for this purpose, and that they would protect the safety of their family. She also said that short term rental users have an incentive to rent responsibly, because they would not be allowed to rent again if they lost their reputation as good renters.
Robert Isham (resident) addressed the Board. He thanked the Board for their work, particularly Trustees Grenier and Lemieux. He stated that he loves the Lake Bluff bubble, and that he believes the first duty of the Trustees is to “Do No Harm.” He believes that homes are people’s largest investments, and he would encourage the Trustee Meyers of the world to study and shed light on the effect this policy would have on those investments. If these studies show that this activity does not detract from home value, he would be fine with it. But he finds the possibility that his home sale would be affected by the presence of a short term rental to be unacceptable. He believes that a pilot program would take on a life of its own and that the Board should be careful in allowing one. He thanked everyone for their time and concern.
A resident addressed the Board. She said that she is happy to hear everyone’s opinion, and that we all become more thoughtful when he hear all the details. She believes we could continue to debate, but that the decision on this issue should ultimately reflect the will of the people as expressed in a referendum.
Trustee Grenier asked all workshop attendees if any individual had a change of opinion following the day’s proceedings. No affirmative response was offered.
Ms. Brenda O’Neill (resident) addressed the Board. She did a survey of young parents she encountered as a Park District daycare volunteer, and none would be interested in living next to a short term rental. She shared anecdotes regarding her time as a bed and breakfast operator in Galena, Illinois and how that operation disrupted her neighbors. She does not believe families will want to buy into Lake Bluff if there are short term rentals. It is sad to her that this discussion is being driven by just a few people. Speaking to the idea that the families of Great Lakes Naval Base graduates benefit from short term rentals, she shared that her son and grandson attended the Naval Academy. She believes that if our community truly wants to support these families, they should offer free room to them, just as she does for sailors at Thanksgiving. Neighbors opening to homes to one another when there are big life events is old Lake Bluff, and short term rentals changes that character for financial gain. She asked why the other 95% of the community should want the character of Lake Bluff to change from helping neighbors honestly. She said she was responsible for some of the signs opposing short term rentals because she wanted Lake Bluff to be aware of the issue, or else it would be hidden from people who are now very concerned. She is irritated with the idea of “purposeful visitors,” and believes that the same professionals using these rentals would never want to buy a home next to one. She thanked the group for their time, and hopes this is a positive discussion for the Village where it preserves its character and helps one another.
A resident addressed the Board. He stated he has lived here since 1982 and never had reason to be involved in the affairs of the Board. He opposes short term rentals. He described his history of living in Lake Bluff, his time as a property renter, and his time as a neighbor of a poor long-term rental property with disruptive occupants. He stated that the Village’s inheritance is the brand of Lake Bluff, which can erode or become stronger. It is Lake Bluff’s market value and its reputation. He asked that the Board be careful with Lake Bluff’s inheritance and brand, and look to the greater good rather than individual good. He thanked everyone.
Ms. Mary Francoeur (resident) addressed the Board. She asked if the draft will include a trial period. Village President O’Hara responded that it would. Quoting General George S. Patton, Ms. Francoeur said that “If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.” She is grateful that Lake Bluff is not in that situation and that an evaluation will happen.
Mrs. Patricia Havrin (resident) addressed the Board. Responding to Ms. O’Neill, said that she has no problem giving nights away for free or paying a reasonable tax for affordable housing. She said that her neighbors across the street have no problem with this activity, and that the police know how to contact her if there is an issue. They have improved their property substantially, live in it, and consider it their home.
Mr. Peter Capps (resident) addressed the Board. He believes the mandate of the two trustees was to take the emotion out of this discussion and make it based on facts and figures. Despite their great effort, there are still no distilled facts or figures. There is no reason to see why this would be good or bad, but there is a consensus to do an experiment. He does not believe it is right that the Village would experiment with the value of his home or the safety of his family. He is unsure why the Village invested time into this study if they are now no closer to knowing if this is great for the Lake Bluff community.
Ms. Liz Jensen (resident) addressed the Board and read a prepared statement. She has made a point of becoming familiar with the business of the Village and has attended many meetings. She observes that there are several critical issues facing the Village, including: crime and safety, aging infrastructure and flooding, loss of revenue, and limited resources including dollars and staff time. She asked that the Board consider the following questions as it moves forward: What do short term rentals have to do with these critical priorities? How do short term rentals benefit the Village as a whole? Will short term rentals benefit or detract from these priorities? And finally, do we have the resources? She thanked the Board.
Mrs. Brenda O’Neill (resident) addressed the Board. She stated that she had signs on her property, and that her neighbor was upset because he was selling his property and he believed the signs were detracting from it. She knows agents who did not sell houses due to these signs in our community. She says that this is evidence that people do not want to buy next to short term rentals.
Ms. Susan Rider (resident) addressed the Board. She stated that not just the 10 or 15 people operating short term rentals benefit from this activity; rather, the whole community benefits. She suggested that the reason property is not selling may be because people do not want to buy into a community that does not invite others to interact with it. She suggested that Mrs. O’Neill’s neighbor’s concern may have been the perception that alarm needed to be raised regarding short term rentals. She stated that the public was now aware, thanked Mrs. O’Neill for notifying and educating the public, and said that the time had come for these signs to come down.
Ms. Terry Bleck (resident) addressed the Board. She has lived in the townhomes behind 24 East Scranton Avenue for 24 years. There are six units, and only two are now owned by residents; the remainder are owned by a local realtor. This realtor has removed her signs whenever a unit goes up for sale, and she fears that there will soon be a short term rental in her building. She cannot stop this activity because the realtor outnumbers her in votes.
Mrs. Patricia Havrin (resident) addressed the Board. In response to Ms. Bleck, she said that a policy could require that one owner only operate one short term rental, which is common in other communities.
Village President O’Hara concluded the period for public comment and called for a motion to adjourn.
The motion was made by Trustee Meyer and seconded by Trustee Grenier. The motion passed on a unanimous voice vote and the meeting adjourned at 12:15 p.m.