Airbnb on the rise in Cook County

Brian Larsen

Jennifer Schulz met with the Grand Marais Planning Commission Wednesday, January 3 to seek a conditional use permit (CUP) to operate a single unit lodging facility located in half of her existing duplex structure. She joined a growing list of people who have sought to increase their income by renting to visitors who come to the county.

In her submission, Schulz cited her location which is just across the street from the hospital as a potential site for temporary housing for employees looking for a place to stay. According to North Shore Hospital Director Kimber Wraalstad, the hospital has lost potential employees because after they were offered a job, they couldn’t find housing.

Schulz also said she created a profile with Airbnb. Publication of the profile is pending, said Schulz, upon receiving permission from the city for a CUP.

On December 31 Duluth News Tribune writer Peter Passal reported Grand Marais was the fifth hottest area in the state for Airbnb guests in 2017 with 3,360, which brought in $433,000. Minneapolis led the way with 78,900 stays which took in $10.8 million. St. Paul was second with 19,930 visits taking in $2.6 million, Duluth was third with 9,530 stays which brought in $927,000, and Rochester was fourth with 7,280 stays bringing in $1.6 million.

Lutsen was eighth on the list with 1,670 stays, which took in $273,000.

Two Harbors and Ely were sandwiched around Lutsen on the top 10 list, which shows how attractive northeastern Minnesota is for visitors.

How fast is Airbnb growing and changing? The New York Times Thomas L. Friedman wrote an op-ed piece on July 26, 2017, in which he stated, “I won’t be surprised if in five years Airbnb is not only still the world’s biggest home rental service, but also one of the world’s biggest jobs platforms.”

Friedman featured people from across the globe that have rented their extra bedrooms through Airbnb but added – for additional costs – everything from cooking instructions to art lessons, photography, sightseeing, even taking people to watch three on three basketball games in the park. Instead of supplementing their incomes, some are making their living solely through this platform.

Airbnb is a relatively new company, but it is growing fast. It was started in 2008 in San Francisco as a way for people to list their spare bedrooms for a price, usually cheaper than what a hotel/motel could offer, and for the traveler to access those listings from a mobile phone or tablet.

Today the Airbnb website states, “Whether an apartment for a night, a castle for a week, a villa for a month, Airbnb connects people to unique travel experiences, at any price point, in more than 65,000 cities in 191 countries.”

In May 2016, the Duluth City Council passed a resolution asking anyone who had an Airbnb in the city to undergo an inspection and to obtain a license and pay taxes on the rental income they receive.

As for Schulz’s request, the planning board found that everything complied with the city’s zoning for a CUP and gave it their recommendation to the Grand Marais City Council. On Wednesday, January 10, the council unanimously approved the conditional use permit for Schulz.

As for starting an Airbnb in Grand Marais, check with the city to see if where you live is zoned for this use.

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2018-01-13 digital edition

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