Vail to consider suspending new registrations for certain short-term rentals

Steamboat Springs plans to extend its 90-day moratorium on new licenses

Vail Daily staff report
The town of Vail’s proposed 90-day suspension of short-term rental registrations would apply to properties in Zone 2, mainly outside of the village commercial core areas.
Map from Vail Town Council packet

As tourist towns across the Mountain West grapple with labor and housing shortages, many are eyeing regulations on short-term rentals.

On Tuesday, July 13, the Breckenridge Town Council declined to place a moratorium on new short-term rental licenses at the request of the town manager — though council said the option is still on the table.

Next up is Vail Town Council, which will consider an emergency ordinance suspending new registrations for certain short-term rentals at its meeting Tuesday, July 20.

The town’s short-term rental regulations were adopted in 2017, became effective March 1, 2018, and currently require an annual registration fee of $150 for owners wishing to rent their property for 30 days or less using Airbnb, VRBO or other listings. The regulations also address properties using on-site or off-site professional property managers.

During an analysis conducted in 2017, the town’s regulations were identified as “passive” compared with other resort areas. Now, four years later, the Town Council has directed staff to prepare an emergency ordinance to take a brief “timeout” to study the impacts of short-term rentals in Vail, particularly in residential neighborhoods.

As drafted, the emergency ordinance would become effective immediately and suspend the acceptance of new registrations for properties within specific business license zones through Oct. 19, 2021. The 90-day suspension would apply to properties located mainly outside of the village commercial core areas.

Properties exempted include those with a front desk operation and serviced by a full-time on-site property manager, any accommodation units, bed and breakfasts, fractional fee club units, lodge dwelling units, limited service lodge units and timeshare units.

There are currently 2,163 approved short-term rental registrations in Vail. Of those, 1,043 have no front desk and are not fractional units. The town’s resident housing goal includes acquiring a total of 1,700 deed-restricted units by 2027. Currently, about 36% of Vail’s 5,600 total year-round residents, or about 2,000 people, live in the town’s 930 deed-restricted homes. This represents 12.7% of the total number of homes in Vail.

To the north in Steamboat Springs, the town council in June approved a 90-day moratorium on new short-term rental applications while it works to draft new regulations. Council plans to vote this week to extend the moratorium to six months.

At a work session Tuesday, July 13, the council informally voted to explore requiring permits, levying a fee for all short-term rentals and restricting where they could be located.

Vacation home rentals, which make up less than 6% of Steamboat’s short-term rental inventory, are currently the only form of short-term rentals that require a permit. Four community members spoke to council during public comment and said other short-term rentals, like condos and individual rooms, are also impacting the availability of affordable, workforce housing and changing the town’s character.

“If you don’t get ahold of this, short-term rentals are going to destroy this community and all of its neighborhoods,” resident Bill Jameson said.

Seann Conway, a Steamboat resident who owns three restaurants, said the high number of short-term rentals has made it difficult for his staff to find housing they can afford.

“Coming into this winter is going to be another task beyond measure,” Conway said. “To be open with no staff is just as taxing and frightening as being closed.”

While many vacation home rentals are multimillion dollar homes near Steamboat Resort, condos in the neighborhoods to the east of the resort make up much of Steamboat’s short-term rental market, according to data collected by KeyData, a short-term rental data firm used by the Steamboat Springs Chamber.

All seven council members agreed they wanted to explore permitting and regulating other forms of short-term rentals, because condos and apartments are housing options that could be rented by locals.

“I strongly believe that reserving locals housing is a big piece of this puzzle,” council member Lisel Petis said.

Council member Michael Buccino said he thinks deciding where short-term rentals will be allowed and how many can be in each neighborhood is another key solution to the city’s housing problem.

“If it’s not a problem in your neighborhood right now, it very well could be in the future if we don’t do something,” Buccino said. “To me, the problem isn’t as much affordable housing as it is losing our community character.”

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