Earlier this month legislation (HB 4046) to preempt local units of government from having zoning regulations regarding rentals of less than 28 days had its day in the House Local Government & Municipal Finance committee. League members showed up in force for the meeting with more than three dozen local officials packing the committee room forcing an overflow room to be made available. While the committee was under a strict time limit for hearing testimony, officials from six different League communities were able to publicly testify in opposition to the legislation. Many, many more League members made calls and sent emails voicing their opposition too.
The following day, a bi-partisan group of legislators introduced an alternative package of bills, backed by the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association, as a more reasonable approach to regulating short-term rentals. House bills 4554 – 4563 is a ten bill package seeking to level the playing field for the lodging industry as well as strike a balance between safeguarding the integrity of residential neighborhoods and the Michigan Realtor’s argument of personal property rights. HB 4554 creates the Short Term Rental Promotion Act that would regulate and define short-term rentals in Michigan law. HB 4563 would amend the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act to declare a short-term rental (as defined in HB 4554) of 14 days or less (in a calendar year) as a permitted use in residential zones. The eight bills in between (HB 4555 – 4562) are trailer bills adding that short-term rentals over 14 days would be subjected to the same accommodation tax acts and the CVB assessment acts as hotels, motels, etc. The League is reviewing these new bills with our internal policy committees, but is encouraged by the more thoughtful approach that is seeking to preserve local zoning authority.
The League is also engaging in a new work group on the two competing short-term rental legislative approaches with various stakeholder groups. The sponsors of the two different proposals (HB 4046 and HBs 4554–4563) have laid out an aggressive schedule of meetings over the coming weeks, attempting to find a reasonable resolution that balances the competing interests of preserving local democracy and private property rights. The League believes local governments are best positioned to know the unique needs of a community when discussing zoning issues. The elected decision makers closest to the people are the most appropriate to determine if something needs to be acted upon to maintain the delicate balance between residential and commercial uses, between residents and investment property owners, and to protect the health safety and welfare of residents, renters and vacation visitors. League staff is committed to being at the table to share your concerns and suggestions on how to best approach this important issue. An issue that is different depending on what community you’re in, thus making a one size fits all solution difficult to come by.
Jennifer Rigterink is a legislative associate for the League handling economic development, land use and municipal services issues. She can be reached at [email protected] or 517-908-0305.