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Is there a rumor you’d like tracked down? Geoff Bruce answers some of the mysteries of life in Brookfield and Elm Grove and helps solve everyday problems. Send your questions to geoff.bruce@jrn.com.

My neighbors and I have a question for your column: We live in the Carriage Hill subdivision of Brookfield. Some people recently bought a house in our neighborhood with the intention of making it an Airbnb. Is this allowed here?
 

Answer: Well, one of your fellow residents asked in February if the city planned to do anything to outlaw Airbnb, and nothing has changed since then. So on the surface, yes, the use of Airbnb in that house would be allowed.

HOWEVER, as people often say: The devil is in the details (I might be the only millennial I've ever heard actually use that expression).

City of Brookfield City Attorney Karen Flaherty noted that nothing has changed since February and there are currently no legislative referrals regarding Airbnb set to be discussed in the future, but that the operation of the Airbnb house in your neighborhood could still violate certain sections of the city's code depending on how it works.

"One of the considerations is, if it was a multi-bedroom home and they were trying to rent out a number of bedrooms, are they using it for multi-family purposes instead of single-family?" Flaherty said. "There are single-family zoning districts and multi-family zoning districts. So that could be a violation."

Flaherty said she also spoke with city of Brookfield Zoning and Building Administrator Larry Goudy on the subject.

"The other thing is that even if you had the same family, if you started to rent it day-by-day, you may have created a hotel as opposed to a family residence," Flaherty said.

The Carriage Hill subdivision is in the city of Brookfield's 5th Aldermanic District and represented by aldermen Scott Berg and Gary Mahkorn.

Both noted that they have had discussions with Flaherty in the past and they do not believe Airbnb to have been a particularly controversial issue, at least up until this point.

"It really has not been an issue," Berg said. "If it's a problem you try to get ahead of it. Currently it is accepted in most communities and the properties in Brookfield are expensive, so this is not a cheap hotel. I think it would kind of self-regulate. We'll see."

Mahkorn noted that he personally knows a number of people who rent out properties via Airbnb.

"The Airbnbs that I know of in the Milwaukee area actually function very well," Mahkorn said. "Conceptually I'm not opposed to that idea, I would just want it to be regulated in some way; set some parameters to hopefully help with the concerns of those who live nearby."

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