2016-11-10 / Opinion

Short-term Rentals Have Many Advantages for Community

To the Editor:

We are writing to inform you about an imminent decision to be made by the Mackinaw City Village Council that we and many other homeowners feel will be detrimental to the future development of the Village. This decision involves disallowing property owners to rent their homes to vacationers for less than 29 consecutive days. Our group has attended many Village Council meetings and we have presented a wide range of data and facts supporting short-term rentals. I believe it is time to bring our positions to the villagers; therefore, I summarize our presentations below.

The people who have purchased homes in the village have substantially improved their properties and enhanced the overall charm of the village. For example, a homeowner purchased a 50-year-old New Moon mobile home that was in disrepair inside and out. The owner invested a substantial amount of money to totally refurbish this mobile home and improve the landscape. What had previously been an eyesore is now a sought-after rental with only the highest ratings from its guests.

There are many other examples of our short-term rental property owners purchasing older, run down properties and turning them into beautiful, family friendly cottages. We estimate we have invested much more than $2 million in our properties and improvements. Our group is totally committed to the enhancement and beautification of the Mackinaw community.

Short-term rentals offer vacationers options for housing as they visit our village. Our guests have come from over 40 states and all across Michigan. When these guests provide feedback, they often state they would not have visited our area if there were no short term-rentals. They appreciate the privacy our homes provide and prefer the conveniences of a home rather than a hotel/motel room. The New Moon is a second home and has new, comfortable furniture, a fully stocked kitchen, lots of books and games – all the amenities of any nice home. We have never had any problems with our guests. These guests leave with a positive experience and tell others about our beautiful village. In several years of renting these second homes, the number of inquiries and rentals growing each year.

Short-term rentals bring revenue to the village. We estimate that our rentals have generated more than $450,000 in revenue for which we all pay sales tax. We hire local residents to help maintain our properties (cleaning, laundry services, property maintenance, etc.) and pay them much more than minimum wage. We also hire local construction companies, plumbers, electricians, and painters.

Visitors do not come to Mackinaw City to stay for a month. Most guests stay over a long weekend or a week at the most. Guests report that they appreciate the proximity to Mackinac Island and the Upper Peninsula, but they are not coming to the village to rent a home for the summer or even a month. Long-term rentals are most common in states like Florida and Arizona where snowbirds are seeking to avoid the long winter of the north.

The Village Council members have declined to explain to us why they feel it is necessary to institute a ban on short-term rentals. We don’t know if there have been any complaints about disturbances, parking problems, or anything else. We are happy to work with the village to deal with any problems. For example, we have maintained that owners must be responsible for ensuring our guests are good citizens and good neighbors. Any complaints about guests should be made to the local authorities and owners should be contacted immediately. There are regulations in place now that can be and should be followed. This can be expedited by having the village maintain a reliable way to identify and contact owners.

We have talked with hotel and motel owners who have no problem with short-term rentals. They don’t see us as competitors, but as other positive options for guests.

We see Mackinaw city as the crown jewel for vacationers in Michigan. We don’t want our Village Council to do anything that will limit visitors. Additionally, we don’t want to discourage current and future homeowners from substantially improving their properties with a goal of providing short-term rentals to add to their own income and to the financial growth of the village.

If you would like to see our village remain vibrant and even see properties improved, we encourage you to contact our Village Council members and encourage them to allow short-term rentals to continue as they have for many, many years.

Diane Moreno

Donald Fullenwider

Mackinaw City

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