Commission Candidates Talk Short Term Rentals

Short term rentals are a hot topic in the city of St. Joseph as a bill has been proposed in the Michigan Legislature to strip local control over the number of short-term rentals allowed in a community. During this week’s forum with candidates for the St. Joseph City Commission, those running had a variety of thoughts. Michelle Binkley, the lone incumbent, said she supports the current city policy on short-term rentals.

“I’m always open to new ideas, but I don’t want to end up like a community near us, where they have so many short term rentals that they lost their school numbers, they reduced their teams. They had to share teams because so many buildings were bought up for short term rentals that they didn’t have families living there anymore.”

Brook Thomas said equity needs to be a principle when approaching the question.

“If we’re going to allow our community to participate in short term rentals, we need to have the conversation that it’s going to be equitable. People in the middle and lower income deserve the opportunity to have that secondary income for making profit off of these just as much as the wealthy people do. So I think if we’re going to continue it, we need to revisit those policies, and make sure it is equal for all.”

Tom Jennings said the city commission should set up a body to talk with locals on both sides of the issue to come back with recommendations.

“Go see if you can come up with any ideas that are new and creative to maybe actually do a few more short term rentals…and we may even charge a fee.”

Marc Williams says he opposes losing local control, but does think St. Joseph should allow a few more short term rentals.

“I like the current set up that we have. What I would like to see is that maybe opening up a few in some other areas. Maybe we put a limit on it. Maybe we put ten…just as a pilot program to see how ten in other neighborhoods would work.”

Michael Sarola said there should be a few more short-term rentals allowed as it is a way to allow more people to come to the area. Ben Rimes supports the current city policy of limiting the vacation rentals. All of the candidates agreed local control of short term rentals needs to be maintained. The election will be November 2.