Crosslake Council takes up short-term vacation rentals issue - again

Draft ordinance will be reviewed; people speak for and against rentals

Mike Fish talked to the Crosslake City Council about short-term rentals Monday, Feb. 13, 2023..png
Mike Fish, who manages short-term vacation rentals, talks to the Crosslake City Council on Monday, Feb. 13, 2023.
Nancy Vogt / Echo Journal Screenshot

CROSSLAKE — The Crosslake City Council kicked off its Monday, Feb. 13, regular meeting by debating the short-term vacation rental issue - again.

The council has struggled with this issue for years, including last year when Crow Wing County’s ordinance was in effect.

More than once the council has heard from both sides of the issue, with those who say they operate good rentals asking not to get lumped in with those who don’t.

Feb. 13, Mayor Dave Nevin said the city has been kicking VRBOs (Vacation Rental By Owner) around for a long time and people are angry.

“I feel it’s time to put some teeth in it and make an … ordinance,” Nevin said.


Recent county board action means cities can contract with the county to license short-term rentals or they can enact their own ordinances, as Breezy Point has done.

Or, like Pequot Lakes, cities can decide not to license rental homes at all.

The council received a draft ordinance for short-term rentals for Crosslake that city staff worked up after researching different cities’ regulations. The draft is a hybrid of what they learned, and the goal was to make it as simple as possible.

The council and city attorney will review the draft, offer any changes and look at it again in March.

Consensus was that the council supports a yearly fee, information on the roadside fire number identifying the home as a rental with the owner’s contact information, and strict fines for violations.

The council heard from several in the audience during a debate on the issue that went for more than an hour, including Michael Fish, who manages VRBOs in neighboring counties; Joe Christensen, whose daughter and son-in-law live next to a Crosslake rental property that’s been a source of problems; Tim Berg, who has been fighting VRBOs since 2012, though he said they are needed but must be made to pay the Whitefish Area Lodging Association tax that goes toward marketing the area; and Mike Stone, who supports vacation rentals.

“I agree 100% with what you’re saying,” Fish said. “I’m a strong believer that the regulations have to be there to protect the neighbors or the community.”

Short-term rental properties aren’t bad in themselves, he said. They’re bad if not managed correctly.


The vast majority of rental guests are families coming here who have a connection to the Whitefish Chain area, Fish said.

People used to come to family resorts; now they are also using short-term rentals, he said, noting if they are marketed right, they are great for the community and the economy.

“Whether people like it or not, we are vacationland for the Twin Cities,” he said of Crosslake.

Fire Chief Chip Lohmiller, who helped with the draft ordinance, said people can’t just pick on vacation rental homes, as families with cabins here have lots of people at their cabins on weekends too.

Find recordings of Crosslake City Council meetings on the city's YouTube channel.

Nancy Vogt, editor, may be reached at 218-855-5877 or . Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at

Nancy Vogt is editor of the Pineandlakes Echo Journal, a weekly newspaper that covers eight communities in the Pequot Lakes-Pine River areas - from Nisswa to Hackensack and Pequot Lakes to Crosslake.

She started as editor of the Lake Country Echo in July 2006, and continued in that role when the Lake Country Echo and the Pine River Journal combined in September 2013 to become the Pineandlakes Echo Journal. She worked for the Brainerd Dispatch from 1992-2006 in various roles.

She covers Nisswa, Pequot Lakes, Lake Shore and Crosslake city councils, as well as writes feature stories, news stories and personal columns (Vogt's Notes). She also takes photos at community events.

Contact her at or 218-855-5877 with story ideas or questions. Be sure to leave a voicemail message!
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