4 cities, 4 approaches to short-term rental regulation
Here's what Crosslake, Breezy Point, Pequot Lakes and Nisswa are doing
Vacation rental homes. Short-term rentals. STRs. Airbnb. Vrbo.
No matter what you call residential homes that owners rent to others by the week or weekend, they’ve become a challenging issue - for some cities more than others.
I think it is an issue that everyone is trying to work through and each city has different concerns and parameters they are concerned about.
After taking over regulation of short-term rentals from 2021 through 2022, this year Crow Wing County returned that opportunity to city governments.
In a nutshell, cities have four choices:
- To not allow such rentals at all.
- To allow them with no regulations.
- To adopt the county’s ordinance and contract with the county to administer it.
- To adopt their own ordinance regulating such rentals.
Pequot Lakes had adopted its own city ordinance at the end 2018 before switching to the county ordinance in 2021. This year, the council chose to no longer regulate short-term rentals at all.
Nisswa adopted the county’s ordinance and will let the county continue regulating rentals in the city.
The decision hasn’t been nearly as easy for Breezy Point and Crosslake.
Both city councils have had numerous and long discussions about the issue, with residents and short-term rental owners being heard loud and clear.
Breezy Point adopted its own ordinance that became effective at the start of 2023. The number of short-term rentals in the city is restricted to 60 and there are rules for a property’s well water tests.
The city repealed all current zoning regulations on these rental properties.
Most recently, the council rejected an idea to set a one-year moratorium on short-term rentals within the city.
We all have the same broad challenge of regulating STRs, but the variables are nuanced within every community.
Crosslake has long wrestled with how to regulate rentals after receiving citizen complaints about some rentals.
The council came close to adopting its own ordinance last month. However, on several split votes it ended up opting not to adopt a draft city ordinance at this time.
Instead, the council decided Monday, April 10, to contract with the county this year as the city does more research before enacting a city ordinance later this year.
At issue is how to enforce regulations, and the council agreed to start drafting a job description to possibly hire someone for those duties.
Each city is unique when it comes to vacation rentals, including the number of such properties.
Pequot Lakes has 10-15 short-term rentals. Nisswa has about 30, and Breezy Point had 37 at the end of 2022. That compares to Crosslake with 118 in 2022, though the number may be higher.
“I think it is an issue that everyone is trying to work through and each city has different concerns and parameters they are concerned about,” City Administrator Rich Spiczka said in an email.
“I think STRs are something everyone is trying to get used to, so the issues and complaints vary based on location, expectations, etc.,” he said.
Nisswa City Administrator Jenny Max had similar words.
“We all have the same broad challenge of regulating STRs, but the variables are nuanced within every community,” she said via email. “Nisswa chose to contract with the county because thus far the system has worked well for us, and currently we do not have the staff capacity to regulate internally.”
Max anticipates that each city will have its own set of issues/complaints with STRs at some point, if they haven’t experienced issues already.
“Nisswa has been fortunate to have had little to no issues thus far,” she said.
Nancy Vogt, editor, may be reached at 218-855-5877 or email@example.com. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Nancy.