Data: I FOIAed a report of all the Police Activity in the City of New Buffalo from May 1, 2020 to October 1, 2020; 154 days by my count.

It turned out that the police had already indicated certain calls as SR, which the Town has advised me means “Short Term Rental incident.”

I added up 679 police responses that includes the category that is not a class activity summarized on the final page of my report described as 7300-1 “Ordinance Violation.” I presume that 7300-1 is a civil infraction it is classified as “violated some ordinance” and not considered a criminal or seemingly criminal activity.

There were 26 properties that were SR and visited by the police at least once in the 5 months of the report.

Those 26 properties had 38 visits. One house (very ordinary looking house a block from the Lake) had 7 visits. Three were “Ordinance Violations.” Two were for an “abandoned vehicle.” One was a “Driving Law Violation” which might not have been related to more than the location of the violation. One was for “trespassing.” When you get one property with that many citations, I would probably call that property “a problem.”

One property had three “ordinance violations.” Three properties had 2 violations.

The rest of the 26 properties had one violation per property.

My Conclusions: 679 citations over 154 days comes to an average of 4.4 calls per day. Actually, surprised me because I thought that it would be fewer. But that number still makes me feel very safe in town.

38 citations related to short term rentals equals 6 percent of the total Citations. 6 percent is not high in my mind. And 38 calls over 154 days sounds like a perfectly manageable situation. One call about every 17 days if the calls were spread evenly over the 154 days. Of course they were not, but bottom line, very few calls.

Four properties accounted for 16 of the 38 citations. That supports somewhat the Mayor’s contention that there are “problem children.” But I would point out that the “problem children” are really very few. Fewer than I think the Mayor and the City Council have led us to believe exist.

Something should be done with the house with 7 violations. It is a matter of enforcement. The question is, “Enforcement of what on whom?”

If this report is accurate, the policing of short term rental properties, while noticeable, is not something that challenges the capabilities of the police.

My Questions: Are all the violations for short term rental properties identified in this report? Nobody has called me back so I can get that question answered.

What am I missing in my analysis of the report given to me?

From what data has the City Council conclude that Short Term Rentals are a large problem in the City of New Buffalo?

Are there other reports or other data that we should be analyzing?

Dan Coffey

Union Pier

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