Thursday, December 8th, 2016

Mansion for rent

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Michael Horne at UrbanMilwaukee wrote about the mansion on Shepard that was being advertised as a vacation rental property. It’s a pretty good look at the home’s history and some of the issues.

Although the issue has received little sympathy from newspaper commenters, there are large topics involved here, including the power of municipalities to regulate the use of properties in their jurisdictions. Just how far can the city go in directing the use of private property?

On the other hand, the city has dealt with mansion problems for decades, particularly in this largely intact area of historic, upper-class houses and mansions. For years, assessors and building inspectors have pursued complaints about old mansions being used as flophouses, rooming houses, nursing homes and rehabilitation centers.

The goal is to keep the east side neighborhood as largely single-family homeowner occupied as possible.

The West Side of Milwaukee also had large mansions, but lacked a neighborhood group to preserve them from non-mansion use. Only time, and a new generation of owners has done so. The early mansions of N. Prospect Avenue might have been doomed anyway by the street’s proximity to the lake, and its desirability for high-rises, but its decline in the postwar years was exacerbated by the many mansions that were converted, legally and illegally, to rooming house use. Unlike those neighborhoods, though, this one is largely intact, still highly desirable, and has an active neighborhood association. We’ll see how this turns out.

On the one hand, I’m sympathetic to the idea that its the owner’s property and he can do with it what he wants. On the other hand, part of the reason the home has such value (or even value as a rental property) is the surrounding neighborhood whose other homeowners would be adversely affected by having a vacation rental property in their midst.

I’m tending to side with the neighbors, especially since the owner, Luis Hernandez, should have looked into the restrictions on the property before he made renting the property out part of his flip-houses plan.

Then there is the part of me that says the home should be turned into a half-way house for sexual predators just to test the liberal beliefs of Milwaukee’s East Side. They could turn the house on Newberry Avenue into a homeless shelter. Does Hernandez own any more properties? I can think of all sorts of uses for them that should be applauded by liberals.

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