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Clear Lake City Council raises vacation rental fees by 233 percent

Clear Lake City Council raises vacation rental fees by 233 percent

Clear Lake City Council

Clear Lake City Administrator Scott Flory addresses the council Monday evening. The council unanimously approved an amendment increasing the vacation rental permit application fee.

Vacation rental owners in Clear Lake will now pay 233 percent more in annual permit application fees.

That comes after the Clear Lake City Council unanimously approved an ordinance amendment increasing its vacation permit application fee from $150 to $500 per location Monday evening during its meeting.

The fee increase will cover the city’s outsourcing of the annual vacation rental inspections to Bergland and Cram of Mason City.

“Anyone that questions why this had to be bumped up a little, I think it’s fairly obvious,” said Mike Callanan, Clear Lake city councilman. “I’m definitely in favor of it.”

Mike Callanan


Callanan was on the council when it adopted the ordinance in 2017 to permit and regulate vacation and short-term rentals in residential districts in Clear Lake through a permit application process.

As part of the application process, the city’s building official conducts an inspection of each property, and it has become increasingly more difficult for the Clear Lake Planning, Zoning and Building Department to keep up.

“We only have a building department of one person,” said Scott Flory, Clear Lake city administrator. "We’ve had a really good year on construction, and this year, we’re going to top over 23 building permits for new homes in the community, multiple subdivisions, and we’re stretching our human resources in that department pretty thin.”

Flory said Clear Lake currently has about 50 vacation and short-term rentals permitted within the city, and he anticipates that number to grow.

The City Council unanimously approved a service partnership agreement with Bergland and Cram to inspect and review all vacation rental properties in Clear Lake to ensure they’re compliant with local, state and national residential building codes.

Per the agreement, it will coordinate inspection times, complete inspections and provide a report to the city approving the applicant or noting discrepancies.

Flory said working with Bergland and Cram will allow the city to provide a “more thorough and more enhanced inspection process than what we’re able to do in-house.”

Bergland and Cram, which will allocate two professionals to complete the inspections, is charging the city $450 per inspection.

The increase in the permit application fee is nothing more than covering the city’s cost, Flory said.

“It’s covering the cost of an outside firm to do the inspection and then a little bit of our time to coordinate managing that process,” he said.

Vacation rental permits expire annually on Sept. 30, and Bergland and Cram plans to complete compliance inspections on permit renewals between January and March.

Compliance inspections will be performed by Bergland and Cram as new owners apply for permits between March and October, the service partnership agreement states.

The firm will provide a list of applicants, their contact information and their inspection reports to the city.

The council unanimously suspended the requirement to have three readings of the proposed amendment and approved the final reading.

Flory said the council’s action allows the city to include information related to the permit application fee increase in the renewal letters mailed to the registered vacation rental property owners this month.

Ashley Stewart covers Clear Lake and arts and entertainment in North Iowa for the Globe Gazette. You can reach her at or by phone at 641-421-0533. Follow Ashley on Twitter at GGastewart.


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