Expedia representative lays out nuisance strategies used in and around Summit County
The county also has its own strategies for dealing with issues
Summit County is a vacation destination, and most of its economy relies on the hordes of visitors that flock to the area for premier skiing, mountain biking, hiking and other recreational activities. But the waves of vacationers grow by the year, and the result is an increased amount of short-term rentals within the community — some of which are now located in areas and neighborhoods traditionally occupied by locals.
According to a report commissioned by the Summit Combined Housing Authority using 2019 data, there were nearly 10,000 units listed for short-term rental in the county, amounting to about one third of the county’s entire housing stock. Some of the vacationers occupying these units, especially those in local neighborhoods, create nuisance issues, which is a reason why some locals say these units need to be capped at a certain amount.
During the Summit Board of County Commissioners’ work session meeting Tuesday, Aug. 3, Ashley Hodgini, regional government affairs manager of Expedia Group, presented a few of the strategies the company uses to tamper these issues as they relate to its VRBO platform.
One of these strategies is a new nuisance prevention tool that identifies “potentially disruptive” bookings before a stay takes place. Hodgini said the tool uses data that correlates with disruptive stays. When a potentially disruptive bookings is identified, the guests are shown Expedia’s policies on disruptive events and the guest must accept the policy before the booking is complete. The guests are also given the option to cancel their stay at no additional fee.
Hodgini said Expedia also has an online portal that provides neighbors and government officials the platform to notify the company about persisting issues and repeat offenders. The company has a partnership with NoiseAware, which is a vendor that manufactures plugs that monitors noise levels both inside and outside a unit, as well.
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Not only that, but Hodgini mentioned that Expedia and AirBnB are partnering to build a “community integrity program” that will essentially remove repeat party houses from both platforms and prevent “platform hopping.”
“We believe these solutions speak strongly to our commitment to be a positive force for good and trying to be sensitive to that ecosystem and understanding what the local concerns are,” Hodgini said.
Part of the reason Hodgini attended the work session was to show support for the county’s ongoing discussion about the affordable housing issue and provide perspective around the strategies focused on short-term rentals. Hodgini said the company acknowledges that the county has a unique problem and that it would like to be thought of as a partner moving forward.
All three Summit County commissioners had the chance to ask Hodgini questions during the meeting. Commissioner Tamara Pogue asked how many individuals Expedia employs within the county, to which Hodgini said none.
Commissioner Josh Blanchard brought up the county’s idea of converting short-term rentals into long-term housing through the use of opportunity zones — neighborhoods historically occupied by locals — and asked Hodgini if the company would be interested in partnering with the county on this solution.
Hodgini acknowledged that Expedia representatives such as herself have followed Summit County’s housing conversation closely and said they understood that the county is largely built out. If the county felt that it needed to restrict or limit short-term rentals in certain areas, she noted that in the future the company would be happy to consult with the team on this strategy, and that this type of strategy is better than an outright ban on vacation rentals.
Summit County also has its own strategies in place to help mitigate nuisance issues. Summit County’s planning department manages its own online portal and a hotline where locals can submit complaints.
Senior Planner Jessica Potter said once a complaint is submitted or called in, the issue must be resolved within one hour. Both the hotline and web portal are monitored 24/7, and Potter said that a responsible agent — which is either the owner of the unit, a representative from a property management company, etc. — must work to resolve the issue and notify the hotline when completed. Potter said if the issue is not resolved within one hour, locals should call the Summit County Sheriff Department’s nonemergency number at 970-668-8600.
Potter said most complaints surround trash, parking and noise and that most come in after hours. She said the county received about 40 complaints per month on average, but noted that this doesn’t necessarily reflect unique nuisances as there may be multiple complaints received in one evening about the same issue.
Potter also noted that come Sept. 30, all short-term rental permits will be converted to licenses.
“Having that in place really benefits the county in terms of enforcement violations,” she said.
For more information about short-term rental complaints and nuisance issues, visit the county’s website at SummitCountyCo.gov/1252/Complaints.
Unincorporated Summit County: 970-486-1444
Blue River: 970-668-8600
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