Summit County passes new short-term rental licensing regulations on 1st reading
The Summit Board of County Commissioners unanimously passed new short-term rental regulations on first reading at its Tuesday, Nov. 23, meeting and plans to make adjustments based on concerns expressed by the public.
The commissioners voted to hold a public hearing on the ordinance and code changes Dec. 16, when they’ll vote on second reading.
The new regulations separate unincorporated Summit County into two zones: resort and neighborhood. Short-term rentals in resort zones — which include Copper Mountain, Keystone, Peaks 7 and 8, and Tiger Run — will continue operating the way they currently do, but licenses will now become resort licenses.
Neighborhood zones include the rest of unincorporated county land and will use a tiered system for licensing, which is where most of the new regulations apply.
Neighborhood zones will have three types of licenses depending on the type and use of the home:
Type I: This license is for those who rent out their primary residence. The Type 1 license has unlimited annual nightly rentals of a bedroom in the home when the homeowner is present and a maximum of 60 nights per year to rent the entire unit.
Type II: This license is targeted to second-home owners — though owners can apply for this license for their primary residence, too — and is limited to 135 nights per year.
Type III: For second-home owners who want an exemption on the nightly limit, this license requires a conditional-use permit and has different terms for single-family homes and multifamily complexes.
Single-family license, no nightly limit
• Homes must have a 100-foot setback between residential improvements or a compliant accessory dwelling unit.
• If the lot is in excess of 40,000 square feet, the application goes through a Class 2 conditional-use permitting process, which is reviewed by county planning staff. Folks can request additional occupancy over two people per bedroom plus two if the lot is in excess of 40,000 square feet, but it will be moved to a Class 4 review, which is more stringent.
• If the lot is less than 40,000 square feet, the application goes through a Class 4 conditional-use permitting process, which is reviewed by the county planning commission.
Multifamily license, no nightly limit
• Homes must be part of a homeowners association with a minimum of 100 units. The complex must have either direct shuttles to ski areas or be within 100 feet of a transit stop, and must include significant on-site recreational amenities, including three of the following: pool, hot tub, sauna, tennis/pickleball courts, racketball, gym, game room or other.
• The HOA must verify amenities and provide a letter denoting whether short-term rentals are a harmonious, compatible use. These units are reviewed as Class 4 unless the HOA is able to provide the suggested letter. Occupancy is two per bedroom plus two with no ability to deviate.
Before second reading, commissioners said they would dive deeper into the nuances of the Type III licenses as this was one of the biggest points of confusion for meeting attendees.
During the morning work session Tuesday, the commissioners agreed to move the maximum number of nights for a Type II license for second-home owners from 120 to 135, but a majority of those who spoke during public comment asked for closer to 180 nights. Commissioners also agreed to add Peak 7 into the resort overlay zone, something those who own on Peak 7 were happy to hear.
Senior Planner Jessica Potter has spearheaded the county’s new regulations and explained the details to the commissioners, noting that the county sent out a survey and has done outreach with stakeholders, such as property managers and second-home owners. The county also emailed all of its short-term rental licensees to let them know about the meeting.
Potter explained that compared to the first half of 2020, home sales in the first half of 2021 that resulted in short-term rental license applications increased 21%. She also emphasized that while only 35% of the county’s short-term rentals are in neighborhood areas, this is where 86% of all short-term rental complaints come from.
Commissioner Tamara Pogue explained the process the county has gone through to get public feedback on its plans for regulating short-term rentals, including hosting one virtual and two in-person town halls and seven work sessions as well as responding to an estimated 700 to 800 emails from the public about the issue.
“We have received robust feedback from the community but chose to take more public comment today because we certainly do appreciate that this is a difficult issue,” Pogue said. “… As the (Board of County Commissioners), we have attempted to try to find a balance between the needs of the industry and the needs of our workforce and our community.”
During public comment, Jenny Lieb said she had lived in the home she owns for three years and starting renting it out because she and her family had to move but wanted to keep the property. She said she hires about 10 locals to help manage the home while it’s rented out year-round.
With the new regulations, Lieb said she will have to cut the amount of folks she hires because her home is not in a designated resort zone. She agreed with many of the points folks who spoke before her made related to increasing the number of maximum nights and grandfathering in current license-holders.
“We heard many very good and thoughtful questions today … many of which we agree with and share their concerns as homeowners who depend heavily on renting short-term,” Lieb said.
Many folks in attendance also asked the commissioners to consider grandfathering properties, and the commission asked county staff to look into this possibility since it was such a large concern.
The way the regulations are currently worded, licensees will not be required to be in compliance until September 2026, even though short-term rental licenses must be renewed every year.
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