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La Crosse commission votes against accessory dwellings in city, but supports rules for short-term rentals



One La Crosse city committee Monday voted against a proposal for accessory dwelling units, which would be smaller houses in the yards of large homes.

The vote by the city plan commission was 5-3 against using the smaller buildings for housing.

City Hall officials said it would be challenging to remodel something considered a carriage house into a dwelling that might not be used all year.

The proposal comes up again at 6 p.m. Tuesday, before the city Judiciary and Administration committee, where council members Mackenzie Mindel and Mac Kiel spoke about the issue last week on La Crosse Talk PM.

Commission member Jennifer Trost spoke in favor of the need for more housing options at Monday’s meeting.

“You don’t have barriers that you have to go through in terms of a bureaucratic process,” Trost said. “It’s like, here, let’s make this easy for people to do, as a way to address our housing crisis.”

Meanwhile, another lodging option received support from the commission.

The panel voted 4-3 in favor of new regulations allowing short-term rental properties, such as bed and breakfast sites.

“Anyone that rents my property is 4 to 5 families,” Rachael Mahairas, who owns a short-term rental, a B&B, in the Cameron Street area, said. “My property has 9 bedrooms, and typically, it’s families that want to stay together. That is not an option at a hotel.”

Short-term renting would be defined as between 2-180 days. There are concerns from some homeowners that renters might have loud parties, or make a mess of neighborhoods. The rental ordinance also goes before the judiciary committee on Tuesday.

City council members Mark Neumann and Erin Goggin were on La Crosse Talk PM yesterday to discuss short-term rentals, among other things. The two are on the Finance and Personnel committee, which takes up regulations on the rentals at its 6 p.m. Thursday monthly meeting this week.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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