SLEEPING WITH THE FISHES
What are they trying to pull? Sometimes, reading the Lake Geneva City Council packet (the detailed online outline of what is going to be presented at a meeting) requires the use of a Rosetta Stone linked to a German WWII mechanical code machine. Monday night’s packet was presented with part of it dedicated to this hazy new area called Commercial Indoor Lodging. One is led to believe that this title would apply to hotels, motels or bed and breakfast businesses.
One would be wrong. It’s all about a new class of ‘accommodations’ wherein the need for a bathroom for each sleeping unit is not required. What is the big deal with these new ordinance modifications presented in the city council packet?
Two items come instantly to the forefront.
First is parking; there are mixed reviews when discussing parking issues for residential apartments located in downtown Lake Geneva. The apartments in question, with respect to the new ordinance template, are those that will be located within the building being redone next to the new parking lot on Lake Shore Drive across from the Cove. But this parking is a much bigger issue when it comes to the rest of the city. All those apartments above businesses located throughout the Lake Geneva downtown area have been basically unavailable for rent to potential dwellers because they have, up to now, been required to have one private parking space per bedroom. Most buildings do not have private parking spaces, and therefore livable spaces above could not be rented out to overnight tenants. That changes with this new ordinance. People will be able to live in those spaces and park on Lake Geneva City Streets during the night. Out of a questionable policy change might come a very good thing, because those apartments need to be rented out to allow more of the people working in local businesses to live nearby. The new ordinance will also help building owners make more revenue and maintain their buildings.
The second change, quietly allowed by deletion in this new packet, takes away bathroom requirements for rented rooms within local buildings. That means, for all intents and purposes, that downtown boarding houses will return. Who’s responsible? Well, the whole city. When the ‘first reading’ of the new modified ordinance was made on Monday night, the entire council acted like they’d never seen it before. When Terry O’Neill, former city alderperson and city activist got up and asked who was responsible for this piece of junk, Dan “Small Ball” Draper, Lake Geneva’s questionable city attorney, could not seem to find a place to hide. He looked everywhere but at Terry O’Neill. The second reading of this juicy little overlooked bit of ‘now you see it now you don’t’ legislation has another reading to go through. Incidentally, readings, as they are called, are not really readings of the new prospective laws or ordinances. That used to be the case in days gone by. Now, to save time, and to blindside residents, new laws and ordinance proposals are merely said to have been read. How very modern.