Southwest Chicago Post
Sounding an alarm about what he calls “a new threat to the
|Alderman Marty Quinn|
“Short-term rental of housing may work in other parts of the city, but the Southwest Side was laid out as a community of single-family homes,” Quinn said earlier this week. “When you tamper with that, when every one of those homes can suddenly and without warning become what amounts to a hotel, you tamper with the character of our neighborhoods, with our quality of life.”
Changes to Chicago’s Municipal Code made last year allow most Chicagoans to rent their homes—or spaces within their homes. Proposed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the changes “ensure that the city has the tools it needs to protect consumers and quality of life in our neighborhoods while allowing the emerging house-sharing industry to grow,” the mayor said in a statement last year.
After months of legislative wrangling, the City Council approved the changes last August in a 43-7 vote. Quinn and 18th Ward Ald. Derrick Curtis were the only Southwest Side aldermen to vote against the changes.
Months after the changes, a check of the house-sharing industry’s leading website, airbnb.com, shows that a number of dwellings across the Southwest Side—and citywide—are currently available for short-term rentals.
Founded in 2008 and based in San Francisco, Airbnb describes itself as “a trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world…in more than 65,000 cities and 191 countries.”
Southwest Siders looking to rent their homes or rooms within their homes can now “showcase it to an audience of millions,” according to Airbnb.
Too many question marks are associated with those millions, Quinn said, citing two examples of short-term home rentals gone wrong.
“These are extreme examples, but there was a situation near 112th and Longwood Drive where a house was rented by a gang members for a New Year’s Eve party—and once they were in, they live-streamed their party on Facebook, taunting a rival gang,” Quinn noted. The rival gang members headed over to the dwelling, and by about 3:45 a.m. New Year’s Day, three people had been shot.
Quinn also recalled a situation where a man renting a room in a residence on the West Side was found to be making a bomb.
The alderman added that several Southwest Siders have told him of their discomfort with such rentals. One complained about renters drinking and coming and going “at all hours” from a rented house next door.
Currently, Quinn is seeking citizen signatures in 23 precincts in his ward, with a possibility of future expansion. If 25 percent of people in a given precinct sign the petition, short-term home rentals would essentially be banned in that precinct for four years.
Quinn is joined in the effort by Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan, as well as the Garfield Ridge Neighborhood Watch, which has for years fought unregulated rentals of single-family homes, especially by absentee landlords.
Thirteenth Ward residents interested in more information or signing a petition are advised to call the Madigan-Quinn Service Office at (773) 581-8000, according to a letter sent to residents of the targeted precincts.
Click here to read a Southwest Sider's opinion on this issue.
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