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Nightly Vacation Rental Ordinance Put on Hold … Again

By Hunter Clauss | Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Pat's Place Vacation Rentals on Berteau Avenue. Credit: Mike Fourcher

A contentious ordinance designed to regulate illegal nightly vacation rentals has once again been put on hold so aldermen can continue to hammer out various details. The proposed plan?which was introduced last summer by Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) and is now in its 26th draft, a new City Council record?would have required nightly rental owners to purchase a license costing $500 every two years for each unit, gain approval from the building?s condo association, and limit the number of vacation rentals to six units per building.

Pat Clark owns Pat?s Place (1911 W. Berteau Ave.), a Northcenter-based nightly rental business that would have to pay $1,000 every two years under the proposed ordinance. She told the City Council?s Committee of License and Consumer Protection yesterday that the fee would have a severe impact on her business.

?It?s not a big money maker,? said Clark, who opened Pat?s Place in 2004 and also lives in the building where she offers nightly rentals. ?I make less than I would if I rented out the units on a yearly basis. When the economy improves, I hope to make more.?

Clark said almost half of the people she rents rooms to are family members of her neighbors. She also said she rents out rooms to business travelers, people who are in the process of moving, and students who are attending classes at the Chicago Mosaic School, which is almost three blocks away from her building.

?There?s nothing disruptive about these people,? Clark told the City Council?s Committee of License and Consumer Protection. ?They?re the family and friends of my neighbors.?

Clark told the committee she pays a hotel tax with the state and that she was informed ?that there was no reason to register with the city,? so she was not aware she was breaking any laws. Clark told me she had met with aldermen Tom Tunney (44th) and Vi Daley (43rd) prior to yesterday?s committee meeting, and she had hoped the committee would hold off any legislation because of the impact it would have on her business.

?To see this ordinance go to City Council now [for a final vote] will probably be premature,? she told me. ?There are a lot of problems with this business, but there are a lot of problems with other businesses too.?

Reilly first proposed the ordinance due to complaints from condo owners who were concerned about the security of their buildings. Reilly told the committee it?s not easy to gauge how many nightly vacation rentals are offered in Chicago, but he estimates it?s in ?the hundreds if not thousands.?

A revised ordinance is expected to be introduced during a joint session of the license and zoning committees next month.

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