Cook County will form committee to address ‘proliferation of vacation rentals’
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Cook County will form committee to address ‘proliferation of vacation rentals’

The rapid increase of short-term rentals in Cook County is a major issue that has only increased since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic as more people flocked to the North Shore for vacations and recreation, according to county officials.

To address this situation, a committee of nearly 20 community members, elected officials and county staff will review how and where vacation rentals fit into the future of Cook County.

The committee will include 17 or 18 people from the community, including representatives from Grand Portage, the Cook County Board of Commissioners, the county administrator, county assessor, people who own and operate vacation rentals locally and others.

The Cook County Vacation Rental Program Review Committee, as the group will be called, will be selected by June 14, according to county officials.

A comprehensive report on vacation rentals was shared by Land Services Director Tim Nelson during a May 24 meeting of the county board.

In a report shared with the board and made public before the meeting, a summary of the situation regarding vacation rentals states:

“The proliferation of vacation rentals as a major issue has clearly only increased over the past several years, along with the associated concerns such as taxation, environmental impacts, conflicting neighboring uses and the relationship between vacation rentals and housing.”

In 2015, Cook County officials organized a similarly structured ‘vacation rental committee’ to review the variety of concerns of that time and forward any recommendations to the board, Nelson explained during the board meeting May 24. The findings and opinions of that committee built the framework for the current Cook County vacation rental ordinance and licensing program.

Meanwhile, some in the vacation rental industry feel the number of short-term rentals in Cook County is not a problem, and whatever role these types of rentals play in the community is a benefit to the local economy.

According to the Cook County Land Services Department, there were 239 short-term rentals in Cook County at the end of 2021. This represents a downward trend in the number of vacation rental properties in the county, based on data from officials in the land services department.

WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs spoke with Cook County Administrator James Joerke about this topic and other news from the May 24 meeting of the county board. Audio below.