Pitkin County board reaches compromise on short-term rental rules | AspenTimes.com

Pitkin County board reaches compromise on short-term rental rules

New regulation will allow maximum of 120 nights of rental per year with four-night minimums.

Red Mountain subdivision, shown here on Friday, May 27, 2022, is one of the highest density areas in unincorporated Pitkin County.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

The Pitkin County commissioners reached a compromise on short-term rental restrictions Wednesday by bumping up the maximum number of rental nights to 120 from 90 per year.

They finally got a rule on the books after more than 20 estimated discussions, four official readings, endless hours of debate and divided public comments.

“Maybe it makes sense to have a divided board to represent those (different) perspectives,” Commissioner Kelly McNicholas Kury said.

McNicholas Kury wanted to stick with 90 days of maximum rental nights per year. On the other end of the spectrum, Commissioner Francie Jacober wanted to set the maximum at 180, if there was any limit at all. Commissioners Patti Clapper, Steve Child and Greg Poschman supported 120 days. That was an increase from the 90 days the board was leaning toward in a discussion last month.

“It’s changed the DNA of the culture of our community and how our community functions.” — Commissioner Greg Poschman

McNicholas Kury joined the majority in the final vote, making it 4-1 with Jacober opposed. The approved ordinance also calls for a minimum stay of four nights to prevent daily turnover.

Board Chair Clapper said the regulation would be revisited within a year after, so that it can be thoroughly assessed.

The regulation will apply to unincorporated Pitkin County only — not short-term rentals in Aspen or Snowmass Village. It will affect Redstone, where there has been vigorous debate among residents about rentals. Supporters of short-term rentals contend the regulations would hurt the town’s efforts to expand its tourist season beyond summer months. Critics contend rentals are fraying the fabric of residential neighborhoods.

“We’re trying to figure out how to please everyone, and that’s not going to happen,” Poschman said.

The commissioners vowed to venture to Redstone later this summer to engage in dialogue with the community on the issue.

Poschman said regulation is necessary to urge longer-term rentals and ease the impacts of short-term rentals on infrastructure. The county government wants to reduce traffic and greenhouse gas emissions. Accomplishing those goals requires regulating the booming short-term rental industry, Poschman said.

“It’s changed the DNA of the culture of our community and how our community functions,” he said.

Several speakers during public comment appealed to the commissioners to go easy on regulation because they said they need rental income to help pay their mortgage. But Clapper said there are also individuals and corporations snatching properties to jump into the rental game.

“It’s not just people who need to pay their mortgage. It’s people who came here to make money off our community,” she said.

The regulation will require people to apply for a license that would be in effect for one year. To get a license, they must be able to prove a history of short-term renting prior to May 1, 2022.

The county is still working on the fee that will be charged for short-term renters. County Manager Jon Peacock said it would likely be a graduated percentage of the value of the property. The fee will roughly equal 1 to 1.5 nights of rental income for a property. The funds are needed to fund oversight of the program.