Rental debate gets stormy

City Council determined to revise rules for vacation homes

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— No matter what happens, half the crowd will likely be angry when walking out of Centennial Hall on Tuesday night.

After nearly a year of public debate, work by city staff, legal research and even quasi-judicial hearings, the Steamboat Springs City Council appears poised to adopt final revisions to the city's vacation home rental ordinance. The proposed revisions would require vacation rental operators to pay an application fee of $500 and an annual permit renewal fee of $50 per sleeping room. The revisions allow a maximum of four vehicles to park at a vacation rental overnight, plus vehicles in garages, but set no limit on the number of sleeping rooms in a rental. The revisions do set a limit of 16 overnight guests.

Those numbers drew mixed reviews at the City Council meeting last week.

Local attorney Bob Weiss, representing members of the Steamboat Springs Vacation Home Rental Alliance, said the alliance supports the parking, guest and sleeping room revisions.

"But we think it's premature to talk about a renewal fee," Weiss said.

Burgess Creek Road resident Bill Jameson, however, said the proposed revisions do not go nearly far enough to regulate vacation rentals.

"You are essentially back where you were before this whole process started," Jameson said to the City Council. "You haven't solved anything. You haven't taken care of the high-intensity uses that got you here."

The ordinance regulates a tourism industry that involves more than 100 homes in Steamboat Springs. Supporters of the industry say vacation home rentals bring the city millions of dollars in annual tax revenue and operate with very few complaints, while opponents - primarily homeowners who live near vacation rentals - say the industry is poorly regulated and creates traffic and noise issues resulting from a constant carousel of out-of-town guests.

Vacation home rentals are homes in residential neighborhoods that are rented to short-term vacationers and sometimes used for private functions.

While the city first adopted a vacation home rental ordinance in 2001, the issue arose again in October 2006, when the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission addressed complaints about vacation rentals from homeowners on Ridge Road and Meadow Lane.

In February, the City Council enacted a temporary ban on new vacation home rental permits, to address citizens' concerns and revise unclear sections of the original ordinance. In April, the City Council extended the ban to August 7.

Tuesday's meeting is the council's deadline for adopting revisions, in order to have the new ordinance in place before the permit ban expires.

City Council President Pro-tem Steve Ivancie said last week that vacation home rentals are a growing local industry.

"We're just starting to see the beginning of this," Ivancie said.

- To reach Mike Lawrence, call 871-4203 or e-mail mlawrence@steamboatpilot.com

Comments

Pilatus 7 years, 5 months ago

The problems would already be solved if the city would just enforce the laws they already have regarding parking, noise, etc...In the end the extra bodies required to accept the 100 applications and enforce teh new regulations will probably cost twice as much as the fees collected. Another perfect example of political posturing as opposed to responsible governing.

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Magpie 7 years, 5 months ago

I would appreciate if the coverage of city council would help us understand what input they are gathering before proposing new ordinances. We are a growing, mountain, ski-resort community, which makes us different from many other areas but much the same as many other growing, mountain, ski-resort communities. What can we learn from what has already been done? This is certainly how I work in my business, to learn from what has already been tried and see if it is being successful for other like companies before I bet my company on it and it seems to be a logical way to govern also. A quick Google search on 'vacation home rental ordinances: provides quite a bit of information and text of current ordinances. Has our city government done this or talked to any other like towns before coming up with fees and numbers (like 16 people max) or did they just pull these numbers from thin air? Scott - can you have the reporters look into this some?

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jlkar 7 years, 5 months ago

Agreed. City Council is not providing us with enough information... ever...

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Mike Lawrence 7 years, 5 months ago

Hi Magpie, Thanks for the note, and for raising a very valid point. Researching what goes on in other mountain towns appears to be standard practice for city staff, who then supply that research to council members. Such research largely impacted the affordable housing discussions, for example. In the case of vacation home rentals, much of the comparative research occurred between 1998 and 2001, in prepaparation for the initial ordinance. This time around, while distinctly local concerns are resulting in revisions to the ordinance, planning director Tom Leeson and city attorney Tony Lettunich utilized VHR policies in several other municipalities, along with extensive local public input, to develop answers to those concerns. In the future, I will do my best to incorporate more of this information in City Council coverage. Hope that helps. Call or e-mail anytime.

Mike Lawrence Reporter, Steamboat Pilot & Today (970) 871-4203 mlawrence@steamboatpilot.com

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Icare 7 years, 5 months ago

All residents of Steamboat should be very concerned about VHR nightly rentals being allowed community-wide.
Vacation Home Rentals allow "commercial" use in single family residential neighborhoods, regardless of any zoning you believed protected you from commercial intrusion. There is no surrounding property notification. The regulation allows up to 16 pp in each VHR and does not limit how many VHRs can surround your single family residence.
There is no limit to the number of bedrooms in a VHR even though the Community Development Code defines an "Inn" as five to 8 bedrooms and, as such, are NOT allowed in single family residential neighborhoods. No additional access easement is required for the commercial use versus residential use. We have lost full-time residents in our neighborhood due to "over the top" VHR nightly rentals. There was no way to enforce parking, stop large "for profit" events, prohibit commercial kitchens from "appearing", halt the constant traffic congestion from property management shuttles, etc. without begging the City to reconsider the VHR regulation in single family residential neighborhoods.
We are NOT talking about resort residential, where anything and everything is already allowed. We are fighting for our single family residential neighborhoods. Please become aware of what is going on around you and your neighborhood.
Soon every single family residential neighborhood in Steamboat will include large, commercial nightly rentals, (except the gated communities). How did this regulation happen in 2001 without a vote of full-time residents?

Kathy Moser

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