Communities push Michigan lawmakers to rethink proposed short-term rental rule

Communities are urging the Michigan Legislature to compromise on legislation that would prohibit…

Communities push Michigan lawmakers to rethink proposed short-term rental rule 1
Communities push Michigan lawmakers to rethink proposed short-term rental rule 2

Communities are urging the Michigan Legislature to compromise on legislation that would prohibit cities and townships from regulating short-term rental housing as the bills await votes from either chamber.

The Michigan Municipal League is asking the Legislature to consider a new bill introduced last week or drop legislative intervention altogether and allow local communities to develop their own policies. 

“We need to slow down and think about how to balance housing, tourism and community,” Marquette Mayor Pro-Tem Jenn Hill said at a Monday Zoom press event. “…We do need to take the time to think about what works for our community.”

Bills that passed out of House and Senate committees last month would include short-term rentals as a valid residential use under Michigan’s zoning act. The inclusion would upend zoning changes local communities have made to limit and regulate short-term rentals and ban future efforts to classify them as commercial. 

Lawmakers have argued that noise and nuisance rules are enough for communities to use to bring problem renters in line.

The Senate placed the bill on the agenda Tuesday and Wednesday, but didn’t vote on the legislation. The House has yet to bring the bill up for a vote before the full chamber.

But community leaders who spent months planning and discussing the regulation of rentals have argued the legislation usurps local control. 

“We want to be able to let our own residents and businesses determine their own needs when it comes to short-term rental,” said Mark Washington, city manager for Grand Rapids.

A new bill introduced Thursday by Rep. John Damoose, R-Harbor Springs, would allow communities to consider short-term rentals a commercial use subject to some regulations under the zoning law in certain cases. 

The legislation would allow communities to subject a short-term rental to special or conditional permit requirements if the total number of rented days a year is more than 14 days.

In many cases, the bill would allow current local regulations to continue and set a framework for others moving forward. 

Though some communities have moratoriums on rentals, Holland Township in West Michigan is one of the only communities in the state with an all-out ban on short-term rentals. 

“We think this is a solution looking for a question,” said Dan Gilmartin, executive director and CEO for the Michigan Municipal League. “We do not have communities banning this outright.”

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy, which supports the legislation that would include short-term rentals as a residential use, has taken issue with the Municipal League’s claim that no communities ban rentals. 

The Midland-based research group wrote last month that Detroit temporarily banned short-term rentals in 2017. Other communities have issued moratoriums or banned short-term rentals in certain areas.


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