Steamboat Springs City Council members directed Planning Director Rebecca Bessey during their Tuesday night meeting to draft an ordinance extending the moratorium on vacation home rental applications to sometime in January while letting it expire Oct. 31 for certain neighborhoods near Steamboat Resort.
The discussion came in advance of Thursday’s Planning Commission meeting, in which commissioners will be holding a nonvote discussion identifying potential overlay zones where short-term rentals could be prohibited.
When council members first broached the idea of overlay zones in August, all agreed short-term rentals would likely continue to be allowed on streets closest to the resort, such as Apres Ski Way, Storm Meadows Drive and Burgess Creek Road.
“To me, it’s just common sense to lift the moratorium right now in the areas that are at the base of the mountain,” council member Michael Buccino said. “There are inherently homes that are at the base of the resort that have been vacation home rentals for years and decades.”
Robin Craigen, Sarah Bradford and Suzie Spiro, owners of Steamboat Lodging Co., Moving Mountains and Steamboat Lodging Properties, respectively, presented council with a map of where they believe the moratorium should be lifted as soon as possible and where it makes sense to keep it in place. The map can be viewed digitally here. Some streets on the map have short-term rental restrictions based on their home owner associations, such as The Sanctuary area.
Bradford and Steamboat Lodging Co. staff compiled the data used on the map from the Routt County Assessor’s Office by looking at streets in the mountain area with less than 25% local density, meaning residents of the houses listed the addresses as their primary residences and mailing addresses for tax purposes.
Bradford said Bear Creek Drive and Hunters Drive, which are included in the current carve-out map, both have a higher percentage of locals than 25%, so council members agreed to revisit those streets before voting.
Bessey and planning staff will also verify Bradford’s data with the county before council votes on the issue in October.
“Vacation home rentals are a benefit to this community in these neighborhoods because of the tax revenue and the guest spending that they inject into our community, the jobs they support, the diversity they bring and the lower levels of complaints they have when they’re professionally managed,” Craigen said. “This makes sense.”
While all council members agreed to vote on cutting certain neighborhoods out of the moratorium, Lisel Petis and Heather Sloop raised concerns about a “gold rush” of applicants seeking permits as soon as the moratorium is lifted.
“Everyone says it’s so easy to get a permit, but it’s not that easy to get one,” Bradford said.
Spiro presented council members with data from the Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors listing service about how many homes have been purchased over the past few years versus how many have obtained vacation home rental permits.
Spiro said the city sees an average of 21 homeowners that apply for a permit each year, with 15 permits that expire and are not renewed, for a net of six new vacation home rental permits issued each year.
“This percentage of permits have actually decreased because the vast majority of these homes being bought are either full-time or second-home owners, and they’re not being rented,” Spiro said.
Council members began discussing short-term rental regulation because of complaints from residents living near such units who raised issues about noise and trash, as well as wanting full-time neighbors over rotating visitors. While short-term rentals are scattered across the city and county, AirDna shows most of them are in the area surrounding the resort.
Council members also discussed leaving Lincoln Avenue and Yampa Street from Third Street to 13th Street out of future overlay zones.
“It is kind of crazy to have a moratorium if we know some of these areas aren’t going to have one,” Petis said. “We’re trying to create a short-term compromise to alleviate this small area.”
Council members scheduled a first reading on the ordinance carving certain areas out of the moratorium for Oct. 12 and a second reading for Oct. 19.
To reach Alison Berg, call 970-871-4229 or email [email protected].