GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado - Go online, and one can find dozens of residential properties in the Glenwood Springs area listed for short-term vacation rentals.
However, renting for periods of less than 30 days is technically prohibited in the residential neighborhoods of Glenwood Springs. So, City Council is looking to legitimize the practice for property owners who want that option.
Doing so would also allow the city to collect accommodations sales taxes for such rentals, as it does for other lodging properties.
The prohibition on short-term rentals in residential areas was last looked at about four years ago, without any changes, Glenwood Springs Community Development Director Andrew McGregor said at the Nov. 17 City Council meeting.
Recently, some homeowners, as well as the local board of Realtors, have said they want to see the issue revisited.
"It is a very different climate now than when we last visited the question," he said, adding it has also become a "heated issue" in some communities.
But, "I have not heard any complaints, so whoever is doing it they're doing it in a way that's not alienating their neighbors," McGregor said.
There are several ways to regulate the activity, however, from establishing the types of units that can be offered for short-term rentals to limiting the activity to certain zones within the city, he said.
Life safety issues, management concerns and impacts on commercial lodges also need to be taken into consideration, he said.
Jackie Gaddis, owner of First Choice Properties and Management, specializes in short-term vacation rentals in the Aspen area.
"I get calls from people asking about places in Glenwood Springs all the time, and I have to turn them down," Gaddis said.
Larger, multi-room condos, townhouses and even single-family homes can be more attractive to large families when they're traveling, she said.
"They want the ambiance and the atmosphere of the home," she said. "The hotel and vacation rental markets are two different things."
There are property owners who offer such rentals on their own, and they should be allowed to do that, Gaddis said.
"But you're not collecting sales tax on those units, and I have to with the owners I represent," she said.
Another Glenwood Springs property owner, June Robinson, said she used to run a bed and breakfast, but then just started renting her downstairs for a few days or weeks at a time. That is, until she was advised that doing so was prohibited.
"So, now I'm renting month to month," Robinson said, adding she paid taxes before, but not now.
"I'd like to be able to pay taxes again," she said.
City Council members agreed they would like to see some regulatory options presented to them to allow for vacation rentals.
"I see no reasons why we shouldn't try to get this under control," Councilman Ted Edmonds said. "We know it's going on, so as long as it's done thoughtfully with the right kinds of regulations, I don't see a problem with that."
However, there was some disagreement whether it should be on a special review basis, or by simply pulling a business and sales tax license.
"I can see where some folks in my neighborhood would not be very happy about it," Councilman Leo McKinney said. "I can support the idea, but only if we go more toward a special review process."
City staff was directed to draft a proposed set of regulations to bring back before council.