Under Radar: Calumet council suspects locals renting properties on down-low

Graham Jaehnig/Daily Mining Gazette Council members recently discussed a problem of residents operating Airbnbs in absence of an ordinance allowing such rental units. Trustee Roxanne King (left) said the village needs to create an ordinance pertaining to such units, and enforce it. Counterclockwise from King are trustees Doug Harrer, Josh Rowe, Virginia Dwyer, Paul Mihelcich, and Nathan Anderson.

CALUMET — The Village Council discussed but took no immediate action on the issue of property owners operating Airbnb businesses within residential areas at its February meeting, after Trustee Roxanne King raised it the previous month.

“Apparently, people are doing it, Airbnb under the radar,” she said. “In the places where they are not allowed to do it, they’re doing it anyway. As such, the village as a whole needs to get an ordinance with details and teeth, and needs to address it.”

Airbnb is an online marketplace which lets people rent out their properties or spare rooms to guests. Airbnb takes a 3 percent commission of every booking from hosts and between 6 and 12 percent from guests.

King told the council the same thing she said in the Ordinance Committee and the Planning Commission meetings, which is she does not have a dog in the fight.

“I am not going to have an Airbnb, she said. “My neighbors already rent out properties, the ones that are occupied.”

King said in her view Airbnb units either fall under the term rental property without regard to what the terms are, or it falls under the category of “you’re doing stuff with your spare room, and I’m not paying attention whether it’s your cousin or your charge or whatever.”

King said whatever policy the council adopts, she wants there to be an ordinance in place that either allows or denies Airbnbs.

“But if you’re going to say ‘don’t do it,’ get some way to enforce it,” said King. “And because we have so little enforcement, and because it would cause more revenue and tourism traffic into the village, I’m inclined to put it out there, and give them a set of rules, and say what they are.”

Village President Dave Geisler said the Planning Commission has asked previously if the village wants to adopt an Airbnb ordinance, and it is looking for guidance from the council.