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Advice please: Three minutes to go before the village board re: a short-term rental ordinance

On our village meeting agenda is a call for discussion re: a short-term rental ordinance. The three “true” bnb’s in the area are calling for some regulation (or ban, probably), though I’m not sure why exactly.

Some background: our listing is in Oak Park, Illinois. This is where the majority of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture (and his former home and studio, and his church, which he designed) is on display, where Ernest Hemingway grew up, and where countless other famous people have called, and still call, home. It’s a small village, about 50,000 people, and we border Chicago, with several mass transit options to get you to downtown Chicago in 10-20 minutes. Suffice to say, a lot of people like to visit here.

Currently we have two hotels, which are always booked to capacity (constant weddings and the like) and three BnB’s. One of the hotels is clearly riding on coattails and name…

The vast majority of my guests (I’d say 80%) are here for either FLW or Hemingway, or are here to visit their sons/daughters/grandchildren who live here. It’s a very diverse, inclusive community, and we are very proud of that. We love our guests and they love the opportunity to stay in a home, when they visit, as a family. I’ve had two previous guests who moved here after staying in our home.

Would love any input from you all. I’m putting together talking points, but really want to make an impassioned plea at this meeting. This is so good for this town, and I worry about the few people who are disgruntled who may try to ruin it, not only myself, but every like-minded visitor.

Sorry this is stream of consciousness right now, but it’s weighing heavily, and I’m looking for any and all input. We have a decent group of hosts involved in this movement, but I don’t believe any of them are active on any of the message boards.

Thank you all. :blush:

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If hotels are always booked, you are putting a limit on the number of tourists and $$ they can spend in Oak Park. Look into how much $$ ABB guests infuse into local economies.

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Also, I should say that this is absolutely NOT a housing issue like it is in SF or NYC.

  • you’re not sure why B&Bs want to ban Airbnb? Really? Are you paying hotel taxes? I am guessing not.
  • 50,000 is NOT a small village.
  • if you want to defend Airbnb you can use their own marketing arguments (helps middle class families, brings in money blah blah)
  • you will likely find your board more open to house sharing and not whole house rentals, like many municipal governments.

Yikes!

I guess maybe I should have included more information.

Our bnb’s here pay normal residential taxes, so long as they live on the property (as do I). We fought this last year, and now our bnb’s are zoned differently.

As for other taxes, I’m happy to pay them, and have said so in other communications. We jjust don’t have our own delineation…yet.

And 50,000—bordering Chicago–is small.

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Judging by the garbage I take out (haha) I’d say it’s at least $250-$300 a stay…

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As a bnb owner I am on the other side. And I use the strategy, of joining AirBnB because I cannot beat them.

The problem is that it is not a level playing field, besides taxes, I need to pay for a lot of stuff that an AirBnB host does not have to, like tax on TV, Radio’s etc. On top of that come a lot of security and safety measures I have to take. Fire/Smoke proof doors, safety lighting, fire extinguishers, handrails etc etc etc.

I would like to see the same rule set applied to an AirBnB host, as to a normal B&B owner.

If I would be the B&B owner in the village meeting, I would call for a level playing field, requiring the same safety standards and regular audits of AirBnB hosts. I would not call for a ban on AirBnB, nothing wrong some more hosts as long as it is a fair competition.

If you wanted to pay taxes I believe you could. I always refer people to Hot spot Tax = Avalara. I started renting before airbnb existed. I contacted Hot spot and paid accomodations tax exactly the same as hotels do. I decided to do this because I believed that today would come. Now I can stand in front of our council and honestly tell them that for 8 years I have contributed xxx $$$$$ to our community. I always viewed what I do from the point of view of a legit b&b, or a hotel. I believe this decision has protected my interests, and given me a legit voice in front of our local govt. I hope that no matter what the future brings in new ordinances, that my town will choose to grandfather me in, due to the voluntary financial contributions of tax I have made for over 6 years. I also have since become involved in local government, and volunteer on boards…including the accommodations tax committee. It is important to see it from the other side. Also my town has it reversed…surprisingly …where full house rental is legal yet renting a portion requires re-zoning and a license. It is a odd situation, and will soon change. For those who choose sides, I want you all to know that I have both…a house that I rent and live in the extra apartment, and also a house 2 blocks away that is free-standing. I am a good neighbor in both locations, and I think it is important not to “choose sides”. When I bought my full house a few years ago nobody wanted it…the recession was on and the house could barely be given away at cost. It is easy now to forget the slump of just 8 years ago.
Good luck in building alliances and friendships if you wish to get laws on your side.

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It actually is a housing issue; maybe a slightly different one, but it’s still about meeting the demand that is obviously there in your area and the resultant effect on the neighborhood. The problem is that with loads more of AIrbnb type accommodation there will be an obvious change in the probably very low-key, peaceful scene. People want to make $$$ I can understand, but there is a price to pay. But the revenue for the local businesses is a plus for sure.

Thank you for that link. Our neighbors fully support this, and many have even had their parents/friends/family stay here when visiting, because it keeps them close by, but not that close. I just don’t know how many, if any, will show up to the meeting.

I appreciate everyone’s input. :slightly_smiling_face:

if there is a next time, start writing letters to the council, and have supporters write letters. Time to learn how your local govt operates.

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