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Ordinances in Cedarburg, Mequon limit some homeowners from renting homes during DNC

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CEDARBURG, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The 2020 Democratic National Convention is just six months away, and some people locally are looking to cash in on the influx of people headed to the Milwaukee area. But some local municipalities have restrictions already on the books that may prevent homeowners from renting out their homes.

Some Cedarburg residents took to social media to voice their concerns, saying they wanted to rent out their homes, but a 2014 ordinance is making that difficult.

Mayor Mike O'Keefe said the ordinance went into effect after a group of homeowners bought homes and renovated them specifically to make them short-term rentals.

"Some of the neighbors in the area were upset because of the noise and the parking and some of the other factors that might be involved with this kind of thing, and they didn't want it there," O'Keefe said.

Under the ordinance, people can rent out homes and properties in Cedarburg's historic downtown without limitations. But in other neighborhoods outside of the downtown area, people are not allowed to rent out homes for fewer than seven days. In other words, homeowners can't rent out their homes for a single day at a time and must do so for a minimum of seven days.

"If you buy a single family home in an area that's zoned for single family homes and you're taking on that responsibility and that financial risk and then to wake up one morning and realize that there's a small scale hotel operating next door, I can see why people wouldn't be delighted by that," O'Keefe said.

The city of Mequon also has some limitations under a 2017 ordinance. For example, homeowners can't rent out their home for a single night; it has to be a minimum of two nights. People who live in an apartment, duplex or in a home in Mequon's town center may not be able to rent out their homes as Airbnbs at all.

"I don't know if there are many people who would be prohibited from doing this. The vast majority of our residences are eligible for short-term rentals," said Mequon Mayor John Wirth.

Wirth said people in Mequon who are looking to rent out their homes during the DNC but are unable to under the ordinance should contact their aldermen.

"The city was not thinking of the DNC when the ordinance was passed. I don't think it was on the horizon at the time the ordinance was considered. (The DNC) is a unique event," Wirth said.

Milwaukee was recently named Airbnb's top trending destination for 2020 with a 729 percent year-over-year increase in bookings.

A spokesperson for Airbnb said the company is always looking for more hosts especially in the Milwaukee area as it is in high demand because of the DNC. The company encourages anyone interested to make sure they're following local laws.

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