Short-term rentals banned in most parts of Grosse Pointe City

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published September 7, 2022

Shutterstock image

GROSSE POINTE CITY — Grosse Pointe City’s updated master plan recognizes some of the changes that have transpired in recent years, but one trend that it’s largely not getting on board with is short-term rentals like those offered through Airbnb, Vrbo and Booking.

With the exception of a few areas in The Village — specifically, those zoned Commercial Business District, or C-2; Mixed-Use District, or T-1; and Mixed-Use District, or T-2 — short-term rentals are prohibited in the City.

“One of the things that came up in the master plan (preparation process) is, people wanted to preserve the tranquility of the neighborhoods,” City Planner John Jackson, of McKenna Associates, said during an Aug. 15 Grosse Pointe City Council meeting.

He said residents expressed concerns about short-term rentals, which are “often without supervision.”

“We’ve heard that was a threat to residential areas,” Jackson said.

But in certain areas of the community, such as T-1 and T-2 districts on the edges of The Village, he said these types of rentals “might be beneficial” to the vitality of the community. The “T” districts are so named because they’re considered a transitional area between commercial and residential uses.

“This doesn’t say there can’t be any Airbnbs anywhere,” Mayor Sheila Tomkowiak said.

The City Council — which also serves as the Planning Commission — voted unanimously as both bodies in favor of a zoning text amendment defining a short-term rental as 30 days or less, and to ban short-term rentals in all but the C-2, T-1 and T-2-zoned areas.

“Our zoning code already prohibits short-term rentals,” City Manager Peter Dame said. “This just defines what a short-term rental is.”

He said the 30 days or fewer rule “is a pretty common standard” for definitions of short-term rentals.

While she agreed with clarifying what short-term rentals are and imposing some restrictions on them, Bryce Thomas, who recently moved to the City, expressed reservations about the prohibition of most short-term rentals, saying that these types of rentals “generate additional revenue” and could help to increase diversity in the community.

“If you look at the businesses on Main Street, they’re not very diverse,” Thomas said.

The short-term rental rule doesn’t prevent longer-term rental of homes, condos or other types of residential dwellings.

It also doesn’t apply to the creation of a bed-and-breakfast, which Jackson said would be “a different use.” City officials are considering possibly allowing the creation of bed-and-breakfasts in specific areas, although nothing had been decided on this issue at press time.

“That’s something we may want to do in the future, under certain conditions,” Jackson said.

Dame said bed-and-breakfasts would need to be properly regulated before they would be allowed.

“It’s a good thing,” City Councilman Dave Fries said of the short-term rental regulation.