Chocolay no place for short-term rentals

To the Journal editor:

Citizens of Chocolay Township, in spite of a petition in which 87 percent of respondents signed that they did not want short-term home rentals (less than 30 days) in their residential waterfront district, the board and Planning Commission chose to proceed to allow short-term rentals throughout Chocolay Township.

Owner-occupied bed and breakfasts are allowed and continue to be a conditional use in waterfront residential and agricultural/forestry zones. Rentals longer than 30 days are allowed in residential zones. Resorts are allowed in agricultural/ farming zones. Property owners will continue to enjoy these freedoms.

Absentee landlords who have no interest in the community are buying up homes and renting them out to raucous vacationers who also have no interest in the community. In response to the explosion of technology-enabled home sharing, thousands of cities are prohibiting short-term rentals in their residential zones in order to retain their character.

Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said, “We’re seeing predatory companies trying to commercialize our residential communities in ways that are damaging to our citizens and our quality of life. It’s people taking very nice properties, buying them and turning them into essentially a flophouse for as many people as they can put in there to extract as much income as they can in the middle of a neighborhood that wasn’t zoned for that kind of behavior.”

Every property purchased for short-term rental is one less property available for people moving to the area who wish to live and work and contribute to our community. It all boils down to money. Short-term renting in residential zones is a phenomenon that creates private profits for a very few at the expense of social losses for the rest of us stuck with the noise and the mess.

The board will meet at 5:30 p.m. Monday in the meeting room next to the fire station. Please call 249-1448 or email jkangas@chocolay.org (manager Jon Kangas) and let your voice be heard. Include your name and address.

The permitting of short-term rentals will change the character of our residential neighborhoods. Some say “these rentals are here to stay,” suggesting we have no control over the situation and just have to accept it.

That’s absurd to those of us who love our neighborhoods and care about their character. When I purchase a home in a residential zone, I expect my neighbors to be “residents.”

Stephanie Gencheff

Chocolay Township