City to discuss vacation rentals

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City officials will once again wrestle with how to regulate vacation home rentals in Steamboat Springs.

The City Council is scheduled to conduct a second and potentially final reading of proposed revisions to the city's vacation home rental ordinance at 6 p.m. today in Centennial Hall. The ordinance regulates a tourism-related industry that for years has fueled clashes between homeowners and property managers. Vacation home rentals are homes in residential neighborhoods that are rented to short-term vacationers and sometimes used for private functions.

At a meeting June 19, the City Council voted 7-0 to approve a first reading of the revised ordinance, moving the process forward to tonight's meeting. But it may take longer than tonight to finalize the ordinance because of unresolved issues such as parking requirements, occupancy limits and enforcement of regulations.

The city initially adopted a vacation home rental ordinance in 2001, but City Councilman Towny Anderson said Monday the definition of such a rental has yet to be clarified.

"I've certainly been a strong proponent of revamping the vacation home rental regulations to make them more enforceable and more administrable," Anderson said. "What's happening is that there are vacation home rentals that look, walk and talk like a bed-and-breakfast or a small inn, but are being classified as a vacation home rental."

Inns and bed-and-breakfasts have stricter planning criteria and regulations than vacation home rentals, which homeowners say disrupt neighborhoods with excessive noise and traffic.

Estimates are that more than 100 vacation home rentals are operating in Steamboat and that many do not have proper city permits.

Supporters of the industry cite the appropriate and nearly unnoticed performance of most vacation home rentals, and say further regulations are unnecessary and would be harmful to a resort town economy.

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