Steamboat Springs Expansion of so-called vacation home rentals has been put on hold for much of the summer.
In a 7 a.m. meeting Friday, the Steamboat Springs City Council voted 5-2 to extend a "moratorium," or temporary ban, on new permits for vacation home rentals, which are homes in residential neighborhoods that are rented to short-term vacationers and sometimes used for private functions. The extended moratorium runs through Aug. 7. City attorney Tony Lettunich said the decision allows for a "seamless continuance" of the original moratorium, which the City Council enacted in February and which would have expired May 7. Council members Paul Strong and Loui Antonucci voted against extending the ban.
The city has issued more than 50 vacation rental permits since adopting a regulatory ordinance in 2001. City staff and vacation home renters have said the Steamboat Springs area likely harbors more than 100 vacation home rentals, many of which are currently operating without a permit.
In recent months, governance and enforcement of vacation rental regulations has led to noise and traffic complaints from residents. A lawsuit was filed against the city by homeowners on Ridge Road.
The City Council enacted the initial 90-day moratorium in order to address citizens' concerns and revise unclear sections of the 2001 ordinance.
Whether, and how, the city should allow vacation home rentals ignited more than three hours of public comment at a packed Centennial Hall on March 27.
"One of the things this (extension) will do is allow us to get a handle on enforcement," City Council President Pro-tem Steve Ivancie said Friday.
Antonucci argued extending the moratorium would unfairly damage Steamboat's tourism industry in the upcoming summer months.
"A lot of these homes are already booked for the summer," Antonucci said. "I don't believe that in a resort town, you can just stop the wheels in motion."
City Council President Susan Dellinger emphasized that the moratorium impacts only new vacation home rental permits, not existing rental operations.
"We're not affecting people that are already out there, either legally or illegally," Dellinger said.
Lettunich added the City Council "can withdraw the moratorium at any time." The City Council plans to continue reviewing and revising the 2001 ordinance next month.
Also Friday, Strong announced that he has received a Gates Foundation Fellowship for the State and Local Government Executive Program of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Strong will attend the program in July.
The City Council also discussed a possible gift of $15,000 from the local American Legion to install wooden flooring in the main room of the new Steamboat Springs Community Center, currently under construction west of downtown. Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord said the American Legion requested its logo be ingrained in the floor.
"My concern is that we make decisions in the absence of policy," Councilman Towny Anderson said of the proposal. "We don't have a policy about putting logos on gifts in public buildings. There will be more and more of these as time goes on - this would set a precedent."
"I think it's perfectly appropriate to accept gifts," countered Strong.
Dellinger said the gift is under council consideration and "could happen."
DuBord said linoleum is the floor material currently planned for the new community center.