Resident with short term rental concerns gets personal meeting with mayor and city staff members

Just wondering how many residents in Minnetrista have called the city to complain about their neighbor and had the mayor and several staff members show up to help.

Minnetrista July 15 council meeting
City Administrator announces staff meeting with resident

The city passed an ordinance last year banning short term rentals of less than 30 days duration anywhere in the city. So far there have been no citations for violating the ordinance, however a resident has been complaining about the rental property next door which, so far, appears to be complying with the ordinance.

The mayor and several staff members scheduled a meeting this week with the resident to discuss his “concerns about what’s going on at the home next to him.”

Now that’s what I call service.

Related story: Minnetrista considers short term rental ban


May 23, 2018

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.

Short Term Rentals May 21, 2018

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.

May 17, 2018

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.

April 30, 2018

On May 7 Minnetrista’s city council is considering an ordinance to ban short-term rentals (defined as less than 30 days). There are two sides on this issue, residents who want the ban because of unruly renters and residents that don’t because they rent out their homes. I’ve been getting emails for several weeks from both sides, have talked with many of them and honestly sympathize with them all. I believe residents that manage their properties responsibly and are considerate of their neighbors in making sure renters are properly vetted should be allowed to continue renting their properties. I also believe that irresponsible property owners that use irresponsible vacation rental companies and continually cause problems for neighbors should be fined and after a warning should not be allowed to do it anymore.

What is the magnitude of the problem in Minnetrista and what should the remedy be? The remedy, obviously, should be relative to the magnitude of the problem but the city doesn’t know how big the problem is because we haven’t been tracking it. I asked the city to tell me how many citations have been issued over the last three years relative to short term rental properties and the answer was, basically, they don’t know. I asked how many complaints have been called in to the city over the last three years due to short-term rentals and the answer was they really couldn’t say since it’s difficult to know whether or not calls to a specific property were related to the short-term rental usage (i.e., they don’t keep track of that information). Are these complaints coming from one or two properties? Five? Twenty? We don’t know because we haven’t been keeping track.

I know people want this issue dealt with quickly but a hasty decision to impose a ban is likely to harm responsible property owners that are good neighbors and rely on rental income to make ends meet. My guess is most wealthy people don’t rent their homes. Those not so well off, however, may depend on that income for their very survival. I think we owe it to them to at least take the time to measure the scale of this problem so we can arrive at a measured, appropriate response to it.

I believe it would be appropriate to spend the next year tracking Minnetrista short-term rental properties by identifying them on the top vacation rental sites, and tracking complaints about noise, drugs, assaults, even parking violations associated with these properties. If we find it’s a wide-spread problem on a large number of properties we can remedy it accordingly with either a ban or requiring a license and enforcing new regulations. If we find a small handful of properties are the problem I think we need to issue citations and fines for the behavior, not only to perpetrators/renters but property owners as well.

The council is not there simply to react to large volumes of emotional emails. It is there to carefully weigh and determine the facts, possible courses of action, and then consider the impact of those actions on the entire community. We need more facts before we can do that. Until we can measure the problem we can’t provide an effective solution to it. It may take a year to gather the needed information but whatever solution we arrive at will be a responsible, well thought out one rather than an emotional one. I hope Minnetrista residents will support finding the best solution rather than a quick one.