Reining in short-term rentals will protect our neighborhoods


(Jill Baker is president of the Grand Pointe Property Owners Association and resides in Dimondale.)

As a longtime resident of the close-knit Dimondale community, I've witnessed the many changes that have come our way over the years. Our neighborhood has always been a sanctuary of sorts, where we've raised our families, shared countless joys and sorrows, and built lasting friendships. However, in recent years, we've seen the negative effect of the rise in unregulated short-term rentals. It is becoming painfully clear that we must take action to preserve our neighborhood's safety and character. Part of the solution is ensuring proper regulations are in place to combat the unintended negative consequences of short-term rentals.

 Our community, a tapestry of vibrant and diverse residents, including many older individuals who are now moving on, is under threat. As more of our neighbors depart, investors are swooping in to purchase properties for use as short-term rentals, posing a significant risk to our community's fabric. I refuse to stand by and watch our neighborhood transform into a hodgepodge of transient rentals that have no connection to our community. Yet, this is the unfortunate reality unfolding in many popular areas across Michigan.

It's not just the erosion of our neighborhood's unique character that worries me. It’s the safety and well-being of our community that is at stake. Unregulated short-term rentals have spawned a host of issues, leaving many residents feeling exposed and vulnerable. Noise disturbances, disruptive parties, parking chaos, and a constant influx of unfamiliar faces threaten to disrupt the peace and tranquility we've cherished for years. Our secure and comfortable neighborhood is teetering on the edge of becoming a district of transient party houses, with guests who have no stake in the community they’re visiting.    

Moreover, investors looking to purchase houses to flip them into short-term rentals could exacerbate these issues. These out-of-town investors have little concern for the consequences to our community related to the rise in unregulated short-term rentals. The rampant buying and selling of houses as mere commodities, with profit as the only goal, will drive up property values — pricing out people who want to live in a community and put down roots. It will make it harder for working families to find affordable homes because they can't afford to compete with corporate investors. These investors are willing and able to pay more than fair market value for a house (not a home) to profit from, but not participate in, the wonderful community we’ve worked so hard to build.      

 Our neighborhood is at a crossroads, and it is time to act. We must address the current reality by prioritizing our community's long-term health, safety, and well-being. Families want safe communities where they know their neighbors and their kids can play outside freely. Seniors want the assurance that the neighborhood where they’re settling down is one of peace and stability. It's time to put sensible regulations in place to curb the rampant growth of short-term rentals to protect our unique character and ensure that our neighborhood remains a safe place where people can grow and thrive.

 Advocating for more regulation of these properties is not about stifling economic opportunities but rather about finding a balance between profit and preservation — between welcoming newcomers and protecting our community's essence. I ask our state legislators to pass a bill that gives local officials the tools to develop and implement regulations that put our neighborhood's well-being first. Long-term residents and families should not suffer the consequences of these unregulated properties; appropriate parameters must be put in place before this quickly evolving upward trend in short-term rentals spirals out of control. 

 Ultimately, regulations governing short-term rentals are about more than just preserving our physical surroundings. They are about protecting the heart and soul of our neighborhood, the bonds of daily interaction that tie us together and the sense of belonging we all cherish. Let's act now to ensure that the place we call home remains a safe sanctuary for generations to come.


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