Letter to the Editor: What’s with STRs?

On May 11, there will be a meeting at Sevastopol Town Hall on the regulation of Short Term Rentals (STRs) such as Vrbo or Airbnb. The rapid growth of these venues across this country and Europe is having consequences for communities. Sevastopol – primarily residential and rural – is not immune, with other communities on the peninsula seeing this influx.

Why the problem? STRs promote tourism, support businesses and add to the county’s income base.

The Town of Sevastopol reports that many of the STRs have not obtained a Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) lodging license as required by state statute. If they’re registered with our tourism bureau, why doesn’t this bureau coordinate with DATCP to verify licensure before promoting?

Why licensing and monitoring? One reason is our fragile karst topography. Our water quality requires careful monitoring and management for wastewater. When an STR owner does not follow state regulation – or is unaware because the STR is not licensed – and violates the sanitary permit on total occupancy, system overflow into the soil and karst happens. 

With mismanaged occupancy maximums, parking is now on the sides of already narrow residential roads. When garbage overflows, raccoons, opossums and loose dogs love it.

The proposed STR ordinance brings back some semblance of the historical residential and rural character that attracted STRs by following state statute and now township rules.

My message to STR owners: Please obtain and maintain your state license. Follow the ordinance regulations reflecting the needs of Sevastopol residents to live peacefully and safely by paying a nominal fee to assist the township in maintaining rules.

You can proudly market your license and adherence to township rules. If you’re an out-of-state owner, you can market your local manager as the person to contact about issues. Your guests will appreciate this presence for problem-solving and suggestions. 

The six-night minimum is a win for you on wear and tear, cleaning and other costs. Neighbors will get to know and engage with your guests. And, you have a steadier flow of income.

Let’s work together to preserve our beautiful community.

Marianne Ewig, Sevastopol resident

Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin