Peru tables short-term rentals discussion

Several properties are on rental sites without authorization from the city, officials acknowledge

Peru City Hall in Peru, Illinois

Peru aldermen tabled the short-term rental proposals ordinance for a third time on Monday.

Mayor Ken Kolowski asked the council on April 24 to table the ordinance granting a special use permit sought by Francisco Sandoval concerning a property at 4 Center Place, for the council to come back with more information. The item was tabled again during the May 8 meeting.

Corporate Counsel Scott Schweickert provided the council with a rough draft of a proposed ordinance directly before the meeting for the aldermen to review.

Schweickert said other communities were struggling with regulating short-term rentals and the ordinance requires time and effort.

Kolowski asked the aldermen to review it before returning to the next council meeting.

Alderman Jason Edgcomb said Peru has several properties listed on rental property websites that are not zoned or authorized in the city and asked if the council planned to notify the owners.

Schweickert told the council he had some cease and desist letters drafted for residents who were operating those rental properties.

“Initially, I was looking at what direction the City Council wants to take this,” Schweickert said. “It’s not fair that these people that petition to come through try to do everything properly while others continue to operate.”

Schweickert told the council he has reached out to Airbnb to see if the city could get an agreement in place for the collection of the hotel-motel tax.

“That’s something that in this ordinance I’d like to see done because that removed a lot of our enforcement work. They’d be required to make sure those people that are hosting properties on their site are registered with the city and remove those listings that are not,” he said.

Schweickert said he hasn’t been able to get a hold of anyone with Airbnb, an online marketplace for short- and long-term homestays, and that is one of the reasons he asked for the council to table the discussion.

Alderman Mike Sapienza said he agreed Schweickert should send out the cease and desist letters to those operating.

“We’ve got laws, rules,” Sapienza said. “Let’s abide by them. Let’s enforce them. Otherwise, what’s going to happen.”

Kolowski said the whole point of the conversation is there are no regulations on short-term rental properties.

“We’re taking out time with this and then putting something together,” Kolowski said. “Everyone’s got homework tonight.”