After the frenzied holidays, the suburb of Twin Cities slows down short-term rentals
There have been reports of loud parties, parked cars crowding neighborhood streets, loud music and indecent behavior.
Forget Las Vegas, or even downtown Minneapolis. With pandemic restrictions limiting large-scale events, people are flocking to short-term suburban home rentals for bachelor parties, reunions, stays and weddings. The trend has some neighbors ranting and local authorities rushing to crack down, while homeowners – including a state lawmaker – say they’re doing their best.
In Roseville, residents complained that some single-family home rentals, including two on Lake McCarrons, created an “unbroken party atmosphere” that sometimes overflowed outdoors with drinking games, marijuana use, activities. sex and endless campfires.
The Ramsey County suburb is now on the verge of regulating and restricting short-term rentals – which are booked through websites like Airbnb and VRBO – claiming the vacation destination atmosphere is not neighborhood-friendly otherwise quiet.
“I think restrictions are needed, especially for homes occupied by non-owners,” Roseville Mayor Dan Roe said. “One of the messages we hear from neighbors is the aspect of uncertainty. They just don’t know what to expect.”
Other suburban communities, as well as the city of Minneapolis, are also tightening the reins.
Prior Lake, which authorized short-term rentals with a 2015 ordinance, banned new rentals for less than 60 days last spring after neighbors complained about party houses. The town of Spring Park on Lake Minnetonka also voted last year to restrict short-term rentals to properties adjacent to commercial properties on major thoroughfares, city administrator Dan Tolsma said.
Prior Lake Community Development Director Casey McCabe said some of the nine short-term rentals registered in the city have generated a wave of complaints.
“The complaints received were disturbing enough that our residents did not have to put up with this in their residential areas,” said McCabe.
In February, Roseville City Council will consider a licensing requirement for all short-term rentals, defined as rentals where guests stay for less than 30 days. The council is also considering requiring minimum stays ranging from seven to 14 days when the owner is not living on the premises.
Frustrated neighbors in Roseville have spent months arguing for more regulations, describing parties’ behavior they say is ruining their quality of life. The city has received complaints of “noise, smoke, excessive parking, offensive language, drug use, nudity and other indecent behavior,” according to director of community development Janice Gundlach.
Roseville resident Tracy Moore, who lives near Lake McCarrons, said at a council meeting last year that she and other neighbors felt uncomfortable as a group of crowded revelers in one of the rental houses by the lake, rocking a sailboat.
“It was a big gathering in this time of COVID. It didn’t feel safe for people I know walking around the lake,” Moore told the council. “There was a lot of buzz in the neighborhood because it was so loud and so intrusive.”
Roseville resident Frank Hess said he was concerned the proposed regulations would not go far enough and would prefer the city to ban all short-term rentals under 30 days. He described “opportunists” buying a lakeside property to turn it into a weekend rental with no consideration for the neighborhood.
The owners push back
But some homeowners, including Sen. John Marty, D-Roseville, and his wife, Connie, say they want to be good neighbors.
The couple bought their two-bedroom lakefront property on Shady Beach Avenue on Lake McCarrons for $ 406,000 in 2019 with the idea that they would have it for retirement. In the meantime, renting it out would help cover the mortgage.
John Marty said they carefully screen guests and explicitly ban parties. They allowed a young family friend and his guests to use the property last summer, he said, prompting neighbors to complain.
“They did it all wrong,” Marty said, noting that the guests had left a campfire on.
He said this would not happen again and that he and his wife intentionally did not participate in the town discussion because they did not want to be seen as unduly influencing the town rulers.
“Getting it right is very important for cities,” said Marty. “We think we’ll live with whatever they find.”
Eric Carrara, the owner of the other lakefront rental home on McCarrons Boulevard, declined to comment.
Roseville City Council member Wayne Groff was the buyer’s real estate agent for the property the Martys had purchased. Groff said he had no active business relationship with the Martys and supported stricter regulations on short-term rentals, but not a total ban.
“The city has to do something, but you don’t have to go to extremes to solve a few problems,” Groff said.
Groff speculated that the pandemic, which has closed and limited traditional venues, has pushed parties into large, suburban rental homes. He said he heard that half a dozen food trucks showed up at a rental home.
“I sympathize with the residents here,” Groff said. “When you have 20 more cars and you have people there until 3 a.m., that’s a quality of life issue that we have to resolve.”
Pattie and Tim Garger, who rent a seven-bedroom house on Gluek Avenue in Roseville through Airbnb, told council last year that the pandemic had created problems, with people hosting parties on the property. They said they had increased screening and now make sure guests understand the rules – but also said neighbors have become intolerant and “discriminatory.”
“The neighbors have started to harass our guests when they come,” said Pattie Garger. “They are now calling the police on whatever is going on.”
Finding a happy medium
As Roseville tries to find common ground, other suburbs have simply said no to short-term rentals.
Edina has a decades-old ordinance banning short-term rentals, and city council has shown no interest in rescinding it, assistant town planner Kris Aaker said.
Eagan also does not allow short term rentals. City council formed a task force and spent months studying the matter in 2018 before deciding there was no good way to allow them in neighborhoods, said community development director Jill. Hutmacher.
Reports that some communities are dealing with party houses was one of the scenarios that prompted Eagan’s leaders to maintain a ban on short-term rentals, she said.
Still, some cities have found a way to allow and regulate short-term rentals.
Stillwater has increased the number of short-term rentals allowed in its historic downtown business district, known for its antique and craft shops.
Jenn Sundberg, who heads the Stillwater Planning Department’s short-term rental licensing program, said neighbors are notified when a property is registered as a short-term rental. Landlords are required to inform tenants of local noise rules and ordinances.
“There really weren’t any overwhelming issues,” Sundberg said. “I feel like the owners are taking responsibility for their guests and trying to make it work for their neighbors. Plus, Stillwater is just a destination for a quieter crowd.”
Shannon Prather • 651-925-5037
A previous version incorrectly identified the role of Roseville City Council member Wayne Groff in a real estate transaction.