Very disappointed in the decision Monday night to ban all short term rentals without an exclusion for owner occupied properties or a grandfathering provision for existing vacation rental properties. It is sad we’ve let some very vocal residents trample on the property rights of our entire community. We could have kept new vacation rental properties out of Minnetrista residential areas while protecting those in our community that have been operating responsibly in the past.
I’m hoping reason and common sense will prevail this evening and the council will realize that everyone has property rights, not just the loud and vocal. The easy, politically expedient path to take on short term rentals is to just ban them without considering future litigation, the hardship caused to responsible owners that have earned a livelihood from their businesses and who will have their investments destroyed by a piece of irresponsible legislation. Let’s address this issue responsibly and comply with Minnesota state law that protects property owners from having the rules changed to deny previously allowed uses. It’s the right thing to do.
We can find a way to prevent future properties intended solely as vacation rentals from locating in Minnetrista’s residential areas without trampling on the property rights of responsible people.
MINNETRISTA PROPERTY RIGHTS ARE BEING TARGETED and homeowners that have been able for decades to rent out their homes as vacation rentals will no longer be able to do so if a proposed ordinance passes next week. Despite the fact there are no specific complaints on record relative to any short-term rental usage of any kind on any properties within Minnetrista, the city council seems poised to ban short term rentals of less than 30 days. People that invested hundreds of thousands of dollars to purchase a house as a vacation rental business and have been responsible property owners for decades will have their businesses taken away by the city. So far there appears to be no inclination to grandfather these soon to be non-conforming properties as Minnesota state law requires (Minn. Stat. Section 462.357, subd. 1e).
What the city has done in the proposed ordinance is declared all short term rentals a public nuisance (which clearly they all are not as most have been operating responsibly for decades). In Minnesota, state law requires a standard of proof that a city must meet before declaring something a public nuisance, otherwise a local government could just arbitrarily declare anything they wanted to control, or get rid of, a nuisance (lawn mowers, dogs, etc.). That standard requires proof of a number of separate behavioral incidents committed within the previous 12 months. This standard has not been met by the city of Minnetrista and leaves the city wide open for litigation if it chooses not to grandfather these non-conforming properties and to make provisions for them in this ordinance.
The city council is unanimous in the desire to prevent future properties from being purchased in Minnetrista solely as vacation rentals in residentially zoned neighborhoods. There are constitutional issues involved, however, that need to be addressed in this ordinance to avoid taxpayer dollars from being needlessly spent on future litigation that could’ve been foreseen.
Property rights in Minnetrista are being threatened by a proposed ban on the long established, legitimate use of property to generate income for homeowners. Short term rentals (STRs) have been in the news a lot recently with the popularity of VRBO, Airbnb and other sites that make it easy for homeowners to manage renting their properties. Several homes have been purchased in Minnetrista solely for that purpose where the owner resides elsewhere. There are state laws that protect homeowners from local governments changing the rules and leaving them high and dry without grandfathering what was previously a legitimate use, but cities can circumvent those state laws by declaring something a public nuisance and that appears to be the route Minnetrista is taking. Obviously not all short term rentals are a public nuisance or the city would be overrun with complaints and so far they don’t have any documented complaints due to short term rental usage on any properties within the city. I guess the city thinks by simply announcing STRs are public nuisances it makes it so?
The only good thing that came from last night’s council meeting on the subject was an agreement to carve out some kind of exemption for people that actually live in their home. Staff seemed rather confused about what that should look like though. Should it exempt them entirely? Should the frequency be limited? Should certain activities be banned? The Mayor read off a list of things she suggested should be prohibited including dogs, wedding parties, parties of more than 6 people, parking on city streets, etc., etc… I don’t know how staff can possibly bring back a solid, enforceable ordinance when we don’t even understand the problem yet. Understanding just doesn’t appear to be a priority…