Snowmass council mulls ‘number of stays’ and ‘number of days’ with short term rentals

Town officials consider regulating duration and frequency of short-term rentals

A vehicle from Sky Run vacation rentals is parked outside of the Snowmass Mountain condos in Snowmass Village on Tuesday, March 8, 2022. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

In an effort to mitigate the impacts of short-term rentals on long-term occupants, Snowmass Village Town Council spent much of a March 21 meeting mulling over how the town might regulate the duration and frequency of short-term stays in some residential units.

Or, as Councilman Tom Fridstein put it: “You could limit the number of stays or the number of days.”

Council did not take any form of action on the matter this week but did brainstorm ideas for what that regulation would look like during a discussion with several representatives of local homeowners’ associations.

How it would manifest would depend on the type of unit in question, and limits would only apply to stays of 29 days or less. A stay of 30 days or more would constitute a long-term rental.

For single-family homes rented short term, council discussed a minimum seven-night stay with a maximum of seven stays per year. There also could be a maximum of 50 nights of short-term renting per year; homeowners could rent out their home in seven separate weeklong stays or in fewer, longer stays (such as a combination of five different 10-night-long bookings).

For multifamily units like condos, council considered a limit of one short-term booking per week with no limits on duration. That concept could allow condo owners to rent over a shorter duration while curbing the impacts of frequent turnover in the units.

Steve Frischmann, who manages the Meadow Ranch, Woodbridge and Snowmass Mountain condos, noted that “it’s the multiple turnovers in a week” that seems to have more of an impact. Frischmann was speaking on his own behalf, not on behalf of the complexes, he wrote in an email.

“I think a night limit, a minimum limit is a necessity, in my opinion,” Frischmann said; he said that a seven-day booking period would be a sweet spot to assuage the impacts of turnover. Frischmann also suggested limits to offseason short-term rentals to give long-term occupants a “break” in those quieter periods.

Limits would not apply to hotels or to the vast majority of “front desk” condo properties like The Timberline or The Crestwood that have historically offered short-term rental units and have a dedicated staff (and front desk) managing that guest experience.

Regulations also could have some flexibility. Councilman Tom Fridstein suggested the town allow for some leniency on the regulations for multifamily properties if the majority of owners in an association decide that they are OK with more frequent short-term rentals.

“If a building HOA or organization comes to us and says, ‘Well, you know, we were set up that we want to have multiple rentals, and 67% of our owners have agreed to it,’ (then) we can allow that,” Fridstein said.

Town Council members now have some time to marinate on those ideas as staff firm up the details. Town Manager Clint Kinney said he plans to bring a proposal back to council in two weeks; if council finds it up to snuff, “then we can float it out to the community for feedback,” he said.

The idea for limits on the “number of stays” and “number of days” aims to address concerns from residents about the character of their neighborhoods and the impacts of short-term rentals on factors like traffic and noise.

But one member, Councilman Tom Goode, maintains that it’s up to the homeowners’ associations, not the town, to decide what limitations on duration and frequency should exist in the first place.

“I think Town Council should stay out of this. … I still strongly feel that the HOAs are stronger than the Town Council,” Goode said. He would like to see the associations enact and enforce limitations.

Some homeowners’ associations in Snowmass VIllage already do because they have more restrictive limits in place on the duration and frequency of short-term rentals in those neighborhoods.

At The Divide, for instance, homeowners can short-term rent their home once each calendar year for a period of no more than 15 days, according to resident Bill Boineau. (Boineau’s wife, Deirdre, is the association manager there and the couple live in the neighborhood, he said.)

Kinney said in the meeting that the town “sets the bar” for regulations; associations can vote to enact stricter ones.

But other neighborhoods do not have those same limitations, Councilwoman Alyssa Shenk said. Not all homeowners’ associations have firm regulations already in place.

“You have a lot of local families who are really upset by the number of rentals around them on any given week, throughout the winter and summer, and I think that we have to listen to that,” Shenk said.

For those families not covered by their association, “I feel like the burden falls on us to do something,” Shenk said.

This week’s conversation was part of an ongoing process to develop a short-term rental permit process and consider potential rules for short-term rentals operators.

Town staff are currently honing that permit concept with aims to develop a system that can track and regulate short-term rentals potentially offer revenue to support workforce housing.

Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to note that Steve Frischmann, who manages the Snowmass Mountain, Woodbridge and Meadow Ranch condos, was speaking on his own behalf, not the behalf of the complexes on the whole.