Glenwood Springs debate over vacation rentals seeks closure
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
After a four-month moratorium on new permits, a survey and a community meeting to gauge public sentiment, Glenwood Springs City Council is set to consider new rules and regulations for vacation rentals Thursday.
Late last year, council imposed a moratorium concerning the acceptance and processing of any new vacation rental permits. However, that moratorium ended March 14 with the same vacation rental policies still intact as before it was implemented.
Those policies now include a one-time $110 application fee in addition to a signed affidavit from the property owner stating that their vacation rental would adhere to safety requirements and other restrictions as outlined in the city’s municipal code.
“I was disappointed not to see (the moratorium) extended long enough to let staff do their due diligence and to let council actually come up with the regulations, but we are at that point now,” said Mayor Pro Tem Shelley Kaup, who supported the moratorium.
“I understand that it can be a benefit to some residents to help with the affordability of their housing,” she said. “But, it can also have effects on the character of neighborhoods for people who want to live in a residential neighborhood and know who their neighbors are.”
Kaup acknowledged the rush of applications ahead of the moratorium’s implementation, but believed talk of any new rules or regulations to vacation rentals — with or without a moratorium — would have garnered a similar public response.
Prior to early October last year, when the idea of a moratorium was first discussed, 75 short-term rentals and 13 accessory tourist rentals — those that have a resident owner on site — existed.
By the time the moratorium took effect in mid-November, 119 short-term rentals and 15 accessory tourist rentals were on the city’s map.
A short-term rental allows a homeowner to rent out their entire residence, whereas an accessory tourist rental permits them the ability to rent out a single bedroom or accessory unit.
Both short-term and accessory rentals adhere to a rental time period of less than 30 consecutive days.
According to a recent statement from the city, the Glenwood Springs Planning and Zoning Commission recommends that the city adopt new rules, including:
• An initial permit application fee of $300, and a $150 renewal fee every other year.
• A required building inspection at the time of application, also to be renewed every other year, rather than taking a property owner’s word for it through a signed affidavit.
• Reducing the percentage of vacation rental units in a single-owner, multifamily building from 25% to 10%.
• Capping short-term rental permits at 10% of the city’s total housing stock, or one short-term rental permit for every street block face or every 500 linear feet, whichever applies.
“I think people want it resolved,” newly elected City Councilwoman Paula Stepp said of the prolonged vacation rental debate. “I hope that we can resolve it this Thursday. I would imagine that there is going to be a lot of community feedback.”
With respect to penalties, P&Z recommended a $250 fine for a first offense, with an additional fine of no less than $100 and no more than $1,000 for each offense thereafter.
“I see this as somewhat like a liquor license or a marijuana license,” Councilman Charlie Willman, who also was elected last month, explained of the proposed penalties.
“We are giving you the ability to conduct a business within the city,” he said. “With that ability comes reasonable regulation of that activity, and if you’re violating those regulations then you lose your ability to use that license.”
The proposed ordinance clarifies that the city’s community development director could revoke a vacation rental permit without following a hearing process.
The P&Z recommendations were made at a special meeting Feb. 25, which weighed results of a public survey, input gathered from a community meeting and city staff’s own research.
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