Lake County and municipal officials are exploring whether it's necessary to draft regulations for short-term vacation rental properties.
Lake County Housing and Redevelopment Board member Bob Entzion met Tuesday, June 25, in Two Harbors with the HRA, Lake County Board of Commissioners and Two Harbors and Silver Bay city councils to form a coalition to fully explore the issue.
"We're not trying to make decisions for your cities, but we feel like it's important to discuss the issue and get ahead of it," Entzion said.
Entzion is proposing that the Lake County HRA hire one or two employees to research the total number of legal and illegal vacation rentals in Lake County for a fluid list of the total number of rentals. After approximately two months of research, Entzion hopes to call the members of the committee back to examine the data and see if regulations are necessary.
Lake County Commissioner Rick Goutermont suggested also researching what other communities are doing to respond to the issue.
"As popular as this is everywhere else, it’s relatively new to us. But it’s huge around the world," Goutermont said. "We don't need to reinvent the wheel here. We can look at road maps out there and see what other communities are doing. There has to be others out there who are feeling the bite a lot more than us."
Silver Bay City Administrator Lana Fralich explained what Silver Bay's current policy does to curb the issue. In Silver Bay, if a vacation rental is in a residential district, zoning regulations require the owner to physically be there and the rental periods can't be for less than 30 days.
"So that we’re not having a couple of nights stays," Fralich said. "And we've been looking at other communities dealing with the same issue. It seems to be a matter of looking at zoning regulations, requiring inspections and finally limiting the number of permits."
In Two Harbors, the planning commission developed a policy for short-term rentals in 2017. The policy outlines 12 regulations under which each short-term rental owner will have to operate to run a legally permitted short-term rental.
The policy requires short-term rentals to apply for an annual permit and pay a fee of $125. Owners would also be required to pay the 3% lodging tax monthly, based on how many individuals stay at the site over the course of the month.
"I do think it would be good to get a gauge of what's all out there, though," city planner Justin Otsea said. "We have a good idea of how many there are in the city limits thanks to the new permit system. But it would be good to see what else is out there."
Committee members were generally friendly to the idea of researching the number of short-term rentals in the county before meeting again in two months. Entzion needs approval from the Lake County HRA to pursue the research position.