At the May 7 Millburn Township Committee meeting, residents and committee members discussed a proposal reintroduced by Deputy Mayor Jackie Benjamin Lieberberg to consider severely restricting or outright banning short-term rental properties.
During public comments, Ann Ludwig, a fourteen-year resident of the Wyoming neighborhood, voiced her concern regarding a Myrtle Avenue Airbnb listing, which has received numerous code compliance complaints, according to city manager Alexander McDonald.
Ludwig mentioned increased garbage and, as a result, increased animal activity due to renters not knowing the garbage pickup schedule, as well as students walking to nearby Wyoming Elementary, having no access to the sidewalk due to the number of cars in the drive.
Residents opposed to the ordinance, such as BOE member John Westfall-Kong, his 11-year-old daughter Lelani, Donna and Ed Bernstein and Scott Haims, conveyed the positive experiences they’ve had renting their residence on Airbnb.
Following public comment, committee members were able to make their views known.
Lieberberg said the issue came to her attention at the New Jersey League of Municipalities conference in Atlantic City. She listed safety concerns about renters, the burden they place on municipal services, the lack of public oversight and the cost of hiring additional code enforcement officers.
Resident Bernadine Wu disagreed: “95% of these issues could be handled with existing ordinances: we have ordinances on the books for garbage, and noise complaints, all these issues. Fine the homeowners for violations.” Wu continued, “As far as safety, I know more about the people I’m renting to than a lot of my neighbors. I have their license, job information — I can vet them before I rent to them to protect my family and home.”
Committee members Sam Levy, Cheryl Burstein, Tara Prupis and Mayor Diane Thall Eglow agreed that an all-out ban of short-term rentals would be an overreach.
“I don’t know if we should stand in the way of someone renting a room so they can afford to stay in Millburn,” said Levy.
He proposed a compromise: the rental property must be the owner’s primary residence.
Mayor Eglow suggested tabling the proposal, saying, “I don’t think anyone thinks this is an emergency.”
New Jersey introduced a transient accommodation tax on October 1, 2018. The 11.6 percent tax is one the first levied by a state on short-term property rentals in an attempt to deal with the rapidly growing market of home sharing sites like Airbnb.