By Tina Richards
“What we have here,” Villa Park City Councilman Bill Nelson advised his colleagues, “is a solution in search of a problem.”
Nelson was referring to an ordinance banning short-term rentals within city limits that three councilmembers were determined to pass during their June 26 meeting, despite having no documented complaints against the three that exist in Villa Park.
Short Term Rentals (STR), defined as any stay less than 30 days, came to the attention of Councilman Vince Rossini, who reported “community concerns” about the issue. Those “concerns” centered around traffic, noise, occupant turnover, property maintenance and density within single-family neighborhoods.
“How many STRs do we have? How many complaints have we received?” Nelson asked. “Have we had traffic issues? Yes, we have complaints about traffic and parking, but are they related to short-term rentals?”
Three’s not a crowd
City Manager Steve Franks reported that the city had identified three STRs in Villa Park by researching websites for vacation rentals or Airbnb’s. “There could be more, but we don’t know,” he said.
Franks also confirmed that there were no documented complaints specific to short-term rentals. Over the course of the council discussion, Franks was asked repeatedly about verified complaints, and each time said there were none.
Councilwoman Diana Fascenelli said that she had talked to the neighbors of one identified STR and “they didn’t like it, but had no complaints.”
Sam Olsen, a Villa Park resident who operates an STR, assured the council that he does not allow renters to park on the street, that he enforces noise restrictions and, since the property is adjacent to his home, keeps a watchful eye. “The only noise is from kids swimming in the pool, and it’s no louder than when my kids play in the pool,” he said. “I’ve operated it for a year now, and have received no complaints from anyone.”
Rossini defended the proposed ban, noting that STRs are commercial businesses operating in residential neighborhoods. “This issue is going to grow,” he said. “It strains resources and diminishes property values. And, I’ve heard complaints.”
“The issue is not about complaints,” Robbie Pitts added, “it’s about the impact on our community.”
“Other cities have big problems with short-term rentals,” Diana Fascenelli advised, “but not us. If we have issues, let’s address them, but let’s not make laws and ordinances to restrict property rights. We took away rental rights last month, and now we’re taking this away.”
Mayor Bob Collacott reported that in talking to residents, the consistent feedback has been “don’t change anything.” “Residents like Villa Park the way it is,” he said, “and they want to keep it the way it is. Residents support our quiet residential character. If we open the city to commercial use – short-term rentals -- it is not consistent with that desire.”
“I agree we should keep it the way it is,” Nelson said. “But, we’re changing it. We’re taking away property rights. We should keep it the way it is by not putting in onerous restrictions. You did this with accessory dwellings, and now you’re doing it to the entire city.”
The vote was three (Rossini, Collacott, Pitts) in favor, and two (Nelson, Fascenelli) opposed.
Villa Park bans short-term rentals