Routt County takes another stab at status of nightly rentals outside city of Steamboat | SteamboatToday.com

Routt County takes another stab at status of nightly rentals outside city of Steamboat

This rural Steamboat home is listed on VRBO.com as providing four beds at an average nightly rental of $275. It's a little more than 10 miles from the ski area.

Almost two years after the Routt County Planning Commission closed the door to legalizing the short-term rental of private homes in rural areas, county commissioners are planning to check-in with them on the status of vacation rentals during an Oct. 19 work session.

Planning Commission concluded in the autumn of 2015 that the county master plan does not allow short-term rentals of private homes.

County Commissioner Doug Monger said Aug. 16, that while private vacation rentals are not legal, he knows they are taking place, and he's concerned that the lack of regulation could put some winter visitors from milder climates in circumstances they didn't bargain for on the county's rural roads.

"My perspective is, I continue to struggle and worry about these people who are (unfamiliar) with the area," Monger said. Especially with winter snow removal (only) once a day. They're not living in an urban environment. That's always been one of my big fears."

The irony is that while vacation rentals are not permitted in Routt County, county officials do not have the resources to actively enforce that ban unless illegal vacation homes are brought to their attention by neighbors.

County Planning Director Chad Phillips estimated in the fall of 2015 that there were 45 to 60 vacation rental homes in the county, outside the city of Steamboat Springs.

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Because the county's enforcement plan is complaint driven, officials will intercede only if the neighbors formally complain about a vacation home.

Steamboat Today reported in November 2015 that the planning commission agreed, based on the master plan's prohibition of commercial activities, that the current county master plan, dating to 2003, does not permit the nightly rental of private residences outside of a handful of designated commercial centers like unincorporated Milner and Clark.

County Commissioner Cari Hermacinski said in October 2015 that she believed the rental of private homes did not constitute a commercial activity.

“I think the master plan is outdated and prohibits many economic activities in the county … If the master plan is going to tie my hands for the next two or three years I’m going to sit here, then I’m all in favor of taking on (a master plan revision)," she said at the time.

However,  planning commission went a step further in November 2015 and said that they did not see a need to upgrade the master plan to update its stance on rentals.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1.

If you go

What: Routt County Board of Commissioners and Planning Commission discuss regulations regarding short-term rentals of private residences, and waterbody setback guidelines.

When: 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19

Where: County Commissioners Hearing Room, 522 Lincoln Ave., Steamboat Springs

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