Airbnb party home + tony suburb = lawsuit

Highland Park residents seek to enforce short-term rental ban; “When the wind comes from the west, one can smell the dope being smoked”

1887 Cooper Lane
1887 Cooper Lane

Residents of a tony cul-de-sac in Highland Park were fed up.

A neighbor who rents his stately home through Airbnb was disturbing the peace, they said, attracting heavy traffic to the block, along with drunkenness and “all the noise and vices a hotel creates,” resident Ken Cooper told the Highland Park News.

Now, the Cooper Lane group has filed a lawsuit, seeking to enforce a local measure that prohibits rentals of less than 12 months.

The object of their ire is a six-bedroom, eight-bathroom home owned by Dr. Bal K. Bansal at 1887 Cooper Lane, which is advertised on Airbnb as a “beautiful mansion near O’Hare and Chicago” that can accommodate 15 guests. It rents for $690 to $773 a night.

Bansal began offering short-term rentals at the home after moving out of state, and neighbors say it’s frequently the site of big parties.

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Cooper said a teenager’s birthday party last year drew 300 people and had to be shut down by police. Sometimes, he added, “when the wind comes from the west, one can smell the dope being smoked.”

While the Highland Park City Council last year declined to prohibit short-term rentals, it imposed a rule in the Cooper Lane neighborhood requiring all leases to be a minimum of a year.

But neighbors said the home continued to be used as a short-term rental.

Bansal and his daughter Rania, who is listed as the host on Airbnb, declined comment to the Highland Park News, as did their attorney. But guests of the home continue to post positive reviews about it online — even as recently as last month.

Residents of another upscale neighborhood — Chicago’s Gold Coast — faced a similar dilemma with two houses, but pressure from the neighbors and two aldermen led the owners to list the properties for sale.

Chicago requires all short-term-rental hosts to register with the city, and allows neighborhoods to ban them via petition. Airbnb has faced pressure in other cities, too, with officials pushing for stricter regulations in New York,  Los Angeles and Miami. [Highland Park News] — John O’Brien 

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