Short-term rental regs due for public input soon in Snowmass |

Short-term rental regs due for public input soon in Snowmass

Council fine-tunes ideas for permit process before community outreach begins

A Mighty Mouse Management truck parked outside of properties at Woodbridge in Snowmass Village on Tuesday, May 10, 2022. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

As the town of Snowmass Village considers short-term rental regulations, officials are getting the wheels turning on ideas that will soon be due for input from the general public.

Council seems to have consensus on creating a permit process to track and regulate vacation rentals, and on the idea of broadening the use of the currently restricted lodging tax and marking tax to potentially support workforce housing, according to an agenda summary for a May 8 Town Council work session discussion.

The permit process could gather some identifying data, like the owner’s name, the address of the unit, the number of bedrooms and beds in the unit, the number of parking spaces available and how the unit is advertised (such as any AirBnB or VRBO listings), according to the agenda summary for this week’s discussion. Fridstein suggested that the permit process specify “legal” bedrooms, which must have an egress and ventilation.

The process also could gather other regulatory information, including the name and contact information for a designated owner representative who could be contacted at any time, and a letter from all applicable homeowner’s associations approving the unit to be rented on a short-term basis. Fridstein suggested that the letter from the homeowner’s association also include any association-specific limitations related to short-term rentals.

Currently, the proposed permit requirements also include “an affidavit attesting that the accommodations have working carbon monoxide and smoke detectors that have been tested and function properly.”

Councilman Tom Goode suggested at this week’s meeting that an inspection be part of that safety requirement, whether it’s conducted by the fire department or the Community Development Department. A permit fee could support the cost.

“I believe somebody else needs to oversee it, whether it’s the fire department or Community Development. I feel very strongly about that. … My main concern is safety,” Goode Said.

Town Manager Clint Kinney noted that including an inspection component will add another layer to the process; the town doesn’t currently require inspections.

“If you go down that inspection route that we’ve never gone down, … we don’t know what that’s going to take, and so neither here nor there, but it’s going to be more difficult,” Kinney said.

Fridstein proposed that town staff report back to the council with more details on what an inspection process might look like and how much it would cost.

“Can I suggest that we ask staff to come back to us for our next discussion, and tell us what would be involved to doing the inspection?” Fridstein said. “I’m not opposed to the inspection stuff. … You know, how would we finance it?”

But council hasn’t yet reached a consensus on a limit on the duration and frequency of short term rentals in different types of units, like single-family homes or multifamily condos.

The idea for a cap on the number of stays and days emerged at a March 21 Town Council meeting. Councilman Bob Sirkus noted that for some, the idea stems in part from “a feeling in the community that single-family homes should not be purchased for the sole purchase of being rented,” and limiting stays and days is “a way to disincentivize someone from buying a property for the sole purpose of renting it is to put a limit on the number of nights.”

After that idea emerged earlier this spring, short-term rental operators expressed concerns about the impact that would have on their rentals during public comment at an April 6 meeting.

Goode has maintained from the get-go that he thinks regulations on days and stays should be up to homeowner’s associations, not the town government.

At this week’s meeting, Mayor Bill Madsen said he would like to have some more information first on how short-term rentals operate in Snowmass Village before establishing regulations that would impact those operations.

“I think that part of this permitting process will allow us to get that type of information, hopefully get that kind of feedback, but I don’t feel like I’m in a position to start regulations now without that data,” Madsen said.

Madsen and Sirkus suggested the town get the conversation started with a baseline number — 56 nights per year on single-family residences could be part of the equation — just for the purposes of getting public feedback.

That number and even the idea of a limit isn’t set in stone, Fridstein noted.

“We’re not making a decision yet, we’re just getting some feedback,” he said.

Town staff will now prepare a draft of regulations for review. Fridstein requested that the council see those regulations one more time before dispatching them to the community.

“Our goal is to put this draft proposal together, then to get feedback from everybody so that whether that number is too high (or) too low, whether the inspections are too rigorous (or) not rigorous enough, whatever that feedback needs to be, we’ll gather that feedback in some comprehensive manner and bring it back to you and you guys can then make a decision on policy,” Kinney said.


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