Our View: Dealing with vacation home rentals

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— The city of Steamboat Springs has a lot on its plate right now. Its vacation home rental policy does not need to consume excessive amounts of time.

Last week, the City Council devoted an entire meeting to the vacation home ordinance that was adopted in 2001 and sets guidelines for short-term rental of single-family homes or duplexes. In February, after very vocal complaints about vacation home practices, the city issued a ban on new permits under the ordinance until it could address the concerns and clarify and revise the ordinance.

That was supposed to happen Tuesday. Instead, the City Council listened to lots of people talk but took no action.

Now, it could be May before the council addresses the issue again.

We understand how passionate people are about this matter, particularly those who live in areas where there are such rentals. That's why so many people turned out for Tuesday's meeting.

Opponents of vacation home rentals say the rentals cause turmoil in residential areas and lead to "erosion of neighborhoods." Supporters say the accusations grossly overstate the impacts of a business that is vital to the local resort economy.

An estimated 100 homes in the city are used as vacation rentals, but only about half of those have secured the proper permit with the city. We have no sympathy for those who have not secured a permit. If the city catches someone operating a vacation home without a permit, we would expect a hefty fine that truly discourages the practice.

Still, as Councilman Towny Anderson pointed out Tuesday, nearly all of the vacation rentals operate without complaint.

In fact, judging from the number of residents from the same neighborhood who showed up at Tuesday's meeting, perhaps this is less of a citywide issue and more a matter of dealing with one or two houses.

The council should instruct staff to come up with changes to the ordinance based on discussion at Tuesday's meeting.

We believe that the city ordinance should establish a reasonable cap on the number of people who can stay in a short-term rental and limit the number of vehicles permitted at a house. Homes should remain residential, with proper limits on kitchen and dining facilities. And the penalties for violating terms of the ordinance should be stiff enough to encourage playing by the rules.

Enforcement will be an issue - the city doesn't have the staffing to monitor vacation home rentals year-round, nor should it use its resources this way. What the ordinance can do is give the city a powerful tool to use when problems arise.

Vacation home rentals play an important role in our community, and we believe owners should have the right to use their properties in this way so long as they follow the city's rules. This is not an issue the city should have to review every few years.

Address the problem homes, clear confusing language in the vacation-home ordinance, lift the ban on new permits and move on.

Then, maybe we can identify solutions to more important issues such as affordable housing and recreation center plans.

Comments

SangriaMama 7 years, 8 months ago

If the impacts were not so grossly overstated by the Ridge Road whining committee this would be a non-issue. I agree that it's time to move on and get a life!

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delilah 7 years, 8 months ago

I agree with all the previous statements, as a tax paying vacation homeowner still in need of a permit renewal, dragging this out till "god know when" only means lost revenue for me and the city. Why must everybody be penalized for the alleged actions of 2 properties?

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zirkel 7 years, 8 months ago

I am disturbed by the "campaign" waged by the Ridge Road homeowners against the owner of the Bear Berry Cottage via the City.

Sure, the homeowners had a reasonable beef against the use of the property. Imagine if the affected homeowners actually tried to resolve those conflicts neighbor to neighbor, rather than blind-siding the property owner and the City with complaints and binders full of documents substantiating their interpretaion of the land use code.

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marcusbmco 7 years, 8 months ago

Its a shame that your editorial board thinks that more rules will solve the 'non problem' and "stiff penalties" will teach people not to "violate terms of the ordinance". You should all be on city council! Firstly, the Vacation Home Rental Permit was a political fix done in 2001 to make politicians feel good about themselves. The fact is a tax licence issued by the city to collect lodging and use tax for the city, county, and state is a licence to do business. AND, if they accept these funds they legitimize the business. Hasn't anybody even noticed this fact? Secondly, if the editorial board thinks Rentals "should limit the size of kitchens, dining rooms, and (#'s of) cars", they should promote this idea with the building/planning dept. and limit ALL homes. Thirdly, we don't need to give city council any more "powerful tools", as they can't handle the power they have now!!! Lasty, as a 'not anonymous' contributor, I can tell you at Grandview Villa we have only 1 goal and purpose; to provide a superior vacation for our clients. We will not play politics with our guests, or deprive them of memories that will last a lifetime, not the short sightedness of the Ridge Road TMT's (Too much Time on their hands).... Watch out for your editorial board too Steamboat.

Submitted from: 'Fox Delicias Hotel' Ponce, Puerto Rico

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SangriaMama 7 years, 8 months ago

Yeah to some of that sentiment. Now we're getting back to the real issue...people come here to vacation. Some own houses here, some rent houses. Why do they come?..if you are reading this you probably already know...because it's pretty nice here...and the people are nice here (for the most part) and our community commitment to extend our Western Hospitality cannot be denied!!

Let's keep the people coming and give the politicians the opportunity to focus on the bigger issues of the day.

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agentofchange 7 years, 8 months ago

Again folks, watch out for the people who want more and more "REGULATIONS". Most of them have "SOCIALISTIC" goals.

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BearBerry 7 years, 8 months ago

Thank you so much for all the support and kind comments that you have made. I'm so happy to see that there are some folks out there that understand the real reason behind the complaints made againt Bear Berry Cottage.... just unkind folks with too much time on their hands, who haven't realized how very wonderful life can be.

I would like to clear up two matters .. first, this controversy wasn't started by a "raucous wedding" that took place; the RRCA filed complaints against ALL the VHRs on Ridge Road months before the wedding in their attempts to put us all out of business and,

I was one of the people who called the police when the guests and their d.j. wouldn't quiet down, in fact, I had them on stand by that night. This incident could have happened at any residence, VHR or not.

I agree that Council doesn't need to "fix something that ain't broke" and am sorry that so much of our time and money has been spent on this issue. It has certainly caused me thousands of dollars in attorney fees and lost revenue from rentals.

Here's to all the great folks out there that still believe in kindness and good neighbors.

Laurrelle Crawford

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