'We have to stop the insanity of this': Why Naperville might 'turn off' short-term house rentals

 
Daily Herald staff report
Updated 8/5/2020 3:21 PM

Naperville City Council members are moving as fast as consensus will allow to regulate short-term residential rentals to address what several called a "party house" that is causing noise, nuisance, traffic and parking concerns for neighbors.

Council members unanimously asked staff members to prepare an ordinance to prohibit short-term rentals for consideration at their next meeting, Aug. 18. They also asked for a report or revised ordinance within 180 days that will allow the council to revisit the issue.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Council member Kevin Coyne proposed the city ban short-term residential rentals, defined in a draft ordinance as any duration less than 31 days, because he said the city needs to take control of the situation at a house that is operated as a rental at 843 Santa Maria Drive. The house, near Veterans Park and just across the DuPage River from Edward Hospital, is operated by Dean Batogowski.

Batogowski said he uses cameras and noise sensors to monitor his guests and works to address the concerns of neighbors. He said reports of the size and noise of parties guests have hosted at the property are "a very large exaggeration."

But several council members said they've stopped by the house themselves on recent evenings and found the scenario not something they would want next to their homes or in their neighborhoods.

That's why Coyne's proposal to ban short-term rentals, at least temporarily until other rules can be established to prohibit problematic partying, gained support from all of the city's elected leaders.

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"We have to stop the insanity of this," council member Patty Gustin said. "We have neighbors there that want peace and tranquility."

Coyne said he does not imagine a total prohibition on short-term residential rentals would need to be permanent. But starting with a ban would let the city take the best approach to regulating such rentals, finding an approach that would prevent excessive crowds, noise and parking issues, while allowing responsible operators to continue their businesses.

"We need to turn off this use until we can regulate it in an effective and proper way," Coyne said.

There was a push earlier in Tuesday's meeting to immediately enact regulations on short-term rentals by approving a drafted ordinance with a few changes. The changes would have capped guests at 10 and required rental operators to be the owner of the home, but dropped a requirement that rental homes must be owner-occupied for at least six months of the year. The move didn't gain support from enough council members to pass.

The six-month owner-occupied provision drew opposition from the majority of 28 speakers who shared comments during Tuesday's meeting. Many said it would destroy their supplemental -- or their only -- income and even have a negative downstream effect on workers such as house cleaners who take on rental properties as clients.

But the council also heard from guests who have stayed at Batogowski's house on Santa Maria, who pitched the value of the tourist dollars they spent at Naperville shops and restaurants and pleaded for lodging options such as the luxury home Batogowski rents out to remain available for people who want to visit.

A few speakers also requested an outright ban on short-term rentals, calling them problematic because they bring "transients" and saying they would be better suited for commercial areas than residential neighborhoods.

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