Roseville's short-term rental restrictions faced their first test over the July 4th weekend when the city issued a misdemeanor citation to a lakefront property owner suspected of flouting the new rules.

Eric Carrara is accused of renting out his five-bedroom home on McCarrons Lake without a newly required short-term rental license. Neighbors — long at odds with Carrara's decision to rent out his place for short stays — reported him to the city after spotting out-of-state license plates in the driveway.

Police were called to investigate, a houseguest was questioned and, at one point, a frustrated Carrara accused officers of trespassing.

At a City Council meeting Monday, Carrara — who applied for the short-term rental license in late June — denied violating the short-term rental ordinance, saying he had long-term tenants in the home and vowing to fight the misdemeanor charge in court.

He said he and his family feel harassed by neighbors who step on their property to snap photos.

"It has been quite discouraging," said Carrara, explaining that he and his wife purchased the property primarily for personal use as a respite from the city.

Regulating short-term rentals has been an acrimonious issue in Roseville and other Twin Cities suburbs, at times pitting neighbor against neighbor.

While some property owners have embraced the new revenue stream, other have complained it's ruining their quiet neighborhoods with nonstop traffic, noise and, in some instances, weekend party houses.

Pandemic restrictions amplified the problem last year, neighbors said, as many travelers looked for vacation options closer to home and away from crowds.

Roseville leaders spent months studying and discussing the issue, saying they wanted to balance the right to rent out properties with maintaining neighborhood quality of life.

Throughout the debate at City Hall, some neighbors pointed to Carrara's house as one of a handful that had turned into a problem property — allegations Carrara denied.

In February, the council passed a short-term rental licensing ordinance governing rentals of 30 days or less.

To prevent weekend party rentals, the ordinance requires a minimum stay of 10 days from May through September, and seven days for the rest of the year if the property owner is not present during the rental.

The new rules also allow the city to suspend licenses for violations including illegal behavior, noise, parking and nuisance violations.

Despite the lengthy public debate, short-term rentals where the owner is off-site are rare. The city has issued two short-term rental licenses this year.

City staff repeatedly contacted Carrara this spring to notify him of the new license requirement and restrictions, according to council records.

Neighbors appeared to be closely watching his home, checking to see it if was listed as a rental on websites and calling the city to check on its licensing status, council records said.

It all came to a head the weekend of July 4 when neighbors, tipped off by Colorado license plates in the driveway, called the city to report a possible illegal short-term rental.

Roseville police stopped by Carrara's property on July 2 and 3. An officer, who recorded the interaction with a body-worn camera, spoke with a woman who said she was renting the house for the weekend, according to a police report.

She said Carrara was not there and was living at another property.

In an interview, Carrara said he rented the house to acquaintances who were relocating to the Twin Cities and had been house hunting throughout the summer.

On Monday, the council voted to further penalize Carrara by delaying the issuance of a short-term rental license for 90 days.

"We have to set a precedent for how to handle this situation," said Council Member Julie Strahan, who noted Carrara's "seemingly aggressive behavior" with police and city staff.

"This is for the good of the neighborhood."

Shannon Prather • 651-925-503d