MUSKEGON, Mich. — The city of Muskegon may soon change the way it regulates short-term rental homes.
During a work session on Monday, the Muskegon Department of Public Safety presented recommendations to city commissioners on how to modify its current ordinance, which went into effect in 2019.
Commissioners say while short-term rentals help the city’s tourism economy, it can also negatively impact residents’ daily lives.
Staff recommended the following proposed changes:
- Update the enforcement process for unregistered short-term rentals so police can issue civil infractions a month faster.
- Increase the fine structure for registered short-term rentals in violation of the ordinance.
- Increase the short-term rental registration fee from $250 to $500.
- Adopt a new short-term rental guide, which informs owners of information and guidelines and would require them to display community rules and regulations for their tenants in properties.
A vote on the recommendations could take place during the city commission’s March 12 meeting.
The department did mention commissioners could take steps to limit the number of rentals, like potential zoning changes that would dictate where short-term rentals could be and place a cap on them in each area; however, they did not make a formal policy recommendation to the city.
Commissioners appeared to agree they would need several more months to discuss a step like that, but indicated in the meantime they would be open to a moratorium on new short-term rental licenses.
The city’s mayor, Ken Johnson, requested a draft proposal be written for possible consideration at the commission’s March 26 meeting.
People who live next to short-term rentals say they disturb their way of life.
“We need to ensure that enforcement mechanisms are put in place to hold STR owners accountable when their business causes disruption,” said Jill Stephenson, who lives in Muskegon’s Beachwood-Bluffton neighborhood. “I’m not entirely against STRs, but it’s obvious, whether you are for or against them, that we’ve reached a point of unrest.”
However, owners of short-term rentals, like Jeff Borges, believe the possible changes unjustly punish them.
“My big concern really is that I’m in compliance; I’ve never had police called to my place,” said Borges, who also lives in Muskegon. “I don’t want to [be] punished in any way, particularly in the increase in registration.”