By Paul J. Sniadecki, ML&SA Board Director
(Michigan House Bill 4503 and Senate Bill 379)
How would you feel if the lakefront cottage, or house next door turned into a constant “Airbnb” or an unregulated hotel? Imagine having strangers in your residential neighborhood most of the time, coming and going at the strangest hours, staying up late, or taking your parking spaces.
That is the potential result of legislation currently being considered by your Michigan Senators and Representatives in Lansing. The proposed laws would treat all short-term rentals as a permitted, unregulated use in any area zoned for residential use. The legislation would effectively “preempt” local control and supersede local zoning regulations that seek to preserve residential neighborhoods.
These bills have all the appearances of making it easier for people in tourist areas to rent residential properties to short-term visitors. Some special interest groups support the proposed laws. The Michigan Townships Association (MTA), who provides support to the 1,240 Townships in Michigan, opposes the bills because they take away local control.
Right now your local government controls land and property use, if a zoning ordinance has been adopted. Historically and generally, that is how Michigan has functioned. These bills would take away that local control of land and property use.
Maybe short-term rentals are right for your community, but historically that type of decision has been left to the people most affected: local residents. If you agree that this is a matter were the State of Michigan should preempt local control, then do nothing. Your silence will tell Lansing they are doing the right thing. You also can call Lansing and support the bills. After all, the state now preempts local control of where Michigan State Police radio communications towers maybe located, and preempts municipalities from banning plastic bags and cups, or from establishing local minimum wage laws that are higher than those mandated by state law.
On the other hand, if you believe the Michigan legislature should not be functioning as a statewide planning and zoning commission, then contact your state senator and representative to oppose House Bill 4503 and Senate Bill 379.
The choice is yours. The bills are currently in “Committee” as of 12/6/2017, but could move quickly towards a vote. One thing for sure, we will all have to live with the results.
To find out who your state senator is and how to contact them, click here
To find out who your state representatives are and how to contact them, click here