Lake County Housing and Redevelopment Board member Bob Entzion has been making the rounds at city council and county board meetings to garner support for a countywide temporary moratorium on new short-term vacation rental properties.
Entzion is calling for the moratorium as an attempt to limit the increasing trend of affordable housing units transitioning to vacation rentals. Due to the increase in popularity of websites such as AirBnB and VRBO, Entzion said the number of affordable apartments available has decreased as building owners have shifted to more lucrative short-term rental options.
"Just last year we saw an apartment building with six units go full-time vacation rentals,"
Entzion said at the Two Harbors City Council meeting Tuesday, May 28. "The owner up and said, 'I'll give you a month's rent to find a place by this date, otherwise I'll start the eviction process.' And these were people who'd been there for 14 or 15 years. And they had a hard time finding other places to live in the area."
In fact, Entzion said he'd heard from other families who opted to move outside of Lake County because they couldn't find affordable housing.
"And that has a snowball effect because those were families with kids and them choosing not to live here means their kids aren't staying in school here and that affects the district budget," Entzion said. "That's money lost because of a lack of housing."
He is proposing that representatives from the HRA, Two Harbors and Silver Bay city councils and the county board form a coalition to fully explore the issue and form some consistent regulations.
Two Harbors and Lake County have their own varying regulations in place for short-term rentals. Those with current permits wouldn't be prohibited from operating, but new requests for permits would be on hold during the moratorium.
The city of Silver Bay has what Mayor Scott Johnson calls an "accidental moratorium" because requests for short-term rentals haven't come to the city.
"I know that planning and zoning are aware of the issue and I think it would be very easy for us to do a moratorium since we aren't doing them (vacation rentals) right now," Johnson said.
All three entities have agreed to send representatives to discuss the issue early in June, possibly within the next week.