Four Steamboat Springs City Council members voted Tuesday to extend the moratorium on applying for vacation home rental permits to Jan. 31, 2022, while opting to remove certain streets near Steamboat Resort.
Council members Kathi Meyer and Heather Sloop voted against the ordinance, and council member Sonja Macys recused herself due to a conflict of interest.
City Council will have to pass a second reading Tuesday before the ordinance takes effect.
Steamboat City Planning Director Rebecca Bessey proposed removing the streets based on their low density of local, full-time residents. Bessey obtained that metric by examining permanent addresses with data from the Routt County Assessor’s Office. Each of the proposed streets has a local population below 30%.
The moratorium only applies to vacation home rentals, which are a small subset of short-term rentals. The city’s code defines vacation home rentals as a single-family dwelling or duplex unit used as a lodging establishment where the owner or other permanent resident does not reside in the unit. There are currently 213 active, operating vacation home rental permits in the city.
Because the city does not require registration for short-term rentals such as condominiums and bedrooms within a house, it is difficult to say how many are in the city, but AirDNA, a website that tracks data on short-term rentals, estimates there are 2,867 active units. Granicus, the enforcement company the city has hired to enforce complaints against short-term rentals, will seek registration from all unregistered short-term rental units.
All six members participating in the discussion emphasized the need to prioritize preserving the character of traditionally local neighborhoods.
“Please don’t say it’s all about the ski area, that is one piece of our community that helps us keep going,” council member Robin Crossan said. “We can be a world class ski area, but we were something way far different than that before the ski area came into being.”
Crossan added that she believes Steamboat Resort has benefited the community and helped shape the city into what it is, but stressed a need for taking care of the entire community, not just those who work in the tourism industry.
Her comments came after Wendy Harvey, a Steamboat resident and short-term rental property manager, addressed the council during public comment and told members she believed their definition of preserving neighborhood character was unfair.
“This is how a lot of people in this community survive, that’s how we live here, so when you talk about an outright ban, an arbitrary ban, a line drawn down Walton Creek Road, you’re crushing part of this community,“ Harvey said. “We are a community and a commodity; we are both. If we weren’t, we’d be Craig.”
Harvey emphasized that tourists who stay in short-term rentals support the community by spending money at restaurants and shops, and that owners who rent their second homes to nightly renters benefit the community by hiring local property management companies to manage their rentals.
“These big, beautiful lovely families come here and they spend money in our community,” Harvey said. “A lot of money.”
Council member Michael Buccino said he believes the moratorium had served its purpose — to give council time to hire an enforcement company to handle complaints against short-term rentals and allow members to create policy around the issue — but he felt it was now causing more problems than it is solving.
“I think that we can solve a lot of this by lifting the moratorium to the areas that I believe are a use by-right anyway,” Buccino said.
To reach Alison Berg, call 970-871-4229 or email [email protected]