Debate over South Haven's short-term rental rules

SOUTH HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — With more and more people turning to Airbnb and other short-term rental services, cities are struggling to strike a balance between residents' concerns about congestion and property owners' desire to rent out their homes and condos.

On Monday, the South Haven City Council adopted two amendments to its short-term rental ordinance. The ordinance will now also cover attached condominiums and the registration fee is increasing from $20 to $200.

But it's what's still to come that may create a real fight.

“I moved to this town because I thought I had neighbors in my neighborhood,” said Susan Ryan, who moved to South Haven 10 years ago to write.

“I live on a block, very small block, with eight homes and only four people live on the street,” she told 24 Hour News 8. “There are three large properties that rent out. They're limited to 12 people and they usually rent to 12 people. They can turn over every two days. So that would be 36 people we don't know on our block every two days."

In response, the city passed a short-term rental ordinance in 2016 and is now working to make changes to it. When all is said and done, the rules may eventually cap the number of short-term rentals allowed in the city or in certain zones.

“There's a small group of citizens who are offended by the fact that someone may make money or charge for the use of their home,” said Gerald Webb, whose wife owns and operates Beachwalk Properties in downtown South Haven.

In May, the city passed a resolution that stated short-term rentals are decreasing school enrollment, making housing unaffordable and increasing noise and traffic. Webb disagrees.

“But some other resident that may be living in their home that's not in that circumstance and they want to sell two years from now, they can't sell to a short-term rental landlord and so, therefore, their market of buyers is going to be much smaller and it's going to start driving down those prices,” he said.

City officials say they're trying to reach a compromise between the wants of people like Webb and residents like Ryan.


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