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Mike’s Musings: STR’s Are They good or bad?

STR’s, or in layman’s terms, Short Term Rentals are a hot topic all over the United States, and even abroad, but nowhere are they a heated topic of discussion than in resort communities.
In the areas, some of my newspapers cover, ordinances are already in place regulating STR’s. In one community, Saugatuck, is about to enact their own ordinance limiting STR’s. It has caused a multitude of social media chatter- many for and many against.
The subject pits neighbor against neighbor. Some see the limitations as having a detrimental effect on a town- less tourism which means less money for small businesses. The flip slide sees the STR’s owned by a lot of corporate entities that don’t contribute to the town’s wellbeing. It’s a conundrum that many municipalities are facing.
Quite frankly, I see both sides. As a libertarian, I believe the free marketplace should decide the issue. At some point an area will become bloated with STR’s, and some owners will lose money, thus find a different use for their property.
A few years back I had a very successful Air B and B that straddled the Alabama/Georgia border. I had it rented almost every day through the summer months. It was a gravy train, until at the end of the season I had a person from Jacksonville, Florida, rent the place for a weekend. She was five stars on Air B n B, so I assumed they had properly vetted her. Unbeknownst to me the one person, was more like 25, and they partied blaring rap music loudly to the point the police had to break up the party. They trashed my beautiful home, destroying furniture, my grill and my hot tub. It was the last time I rented the place out.
In Florida when I was looking to purchase a condominium or home a couple of years ago, I was constantly being outbid by corporations who were willing to pay cash. At the time I didn’t understand why they wanted these single-family homes, or even condos, but finally I realized, it was to place them on Air b n B or like sites to rent them for a few days or a week. I suppose if you had a dozen of these homes in tourist areas you could clear six figures easily.
Florida is a bit different than coastal Michigan. The big corporations to my knowledge are not buying homes to convert to air b n b’s here. Most homes are bought by individuals, who then decide to convert because they see the opportunity to make a few bucks. Are they in the wrong? Not necessarily, but neither are the citizens who wish to restrict STR’s.
It’s a complex issue. I’m glad I’m not one who must decide. However, I would think it prudent that any municipal entity, including Saugatuck City, put a lot of time and effort into weighing the pros can cons before making laws. We certainly can live another few months. We’ve lived with the proliferation of STR’s for years, thus a decision doesn’t have to be made overnight. I’m asking all municipalities, and there are many, to study all sides of the issue, particularly the economic impacts before initiating a new ordinance.

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