Glenwood Councilor Leahy calls ‘bull’ on VRBO moratorium
City Council declines to extend past March 14
February 8, 2019
Glenwood Springs city staff this week recommended extending a moratorium on vacation rentals by owner (VRBOs) that was set to expire next month. However, City Council, in a narrow 4-3 vote Thursday night, denied the request.
"We blew it up, for no damn reason. No reason at all – just blew it up – threw a moratorium at VRBOs after we had just spent $250,000 revamping our entire development code," Councilor Todd Leahy lamented at the Thursday meeting.
Leahy, who had been vehemently opposed to the moratorium since day one, argued that, out of 4,300 housing units, 70 VRBOs were on the board prior to the moratorium. Then, once talk of moratorium hit Glenwood’s neighborhoods, Leahy said the number of permits shot to 135.
"We did it to ourselves, because we created distrust. We created uncertainty. We created an environment where people are going, 'Oh, shoot, I better hurry up and act before the government does something to me,” Leahy unleashed in response to staff's request to extend the moratorium.
“That's the facts. That's exactly what happened. You can spin it anyway you want, but that's what we did up here to this community, and it's bull …" Leahy said. "This is not an honest discussion right now and you're really irking me, if you can't tell.”
Last November, City Council approved a temporary moratorium on VRBOs for four months. And, with the expiration deadline stamped for March 14, city staff requested additional time to avoid public confusion and another rush of applicants applying for permits under the previous regulations.
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Prior to the moratorium, in order to obtain a permit, a property owner had to pay a one-time fee of $110. Exactly what the new VRBO regulations, if any, will look like still remains to be seen.
Councilors Jonathan Godes, Shelley Kaup and Rick Voorhees supported the suggested moratorium extension to April 4 in order for city staff to further assess the city's recent VRBO survey, as well as input from a recent public meeting on the matter.
With Mayor Michael Gamba and Councilor Steve Davis in Leahy’s camp regarding the extension, all eyes were on the swing vote, which came from Councilor Jim Ingraham.
"Everybody wants to know what you think, Jim," said Godes, who originally proposed the moratorium.
"I disagree with just about everything that Todd has said," asserted Ingraham, who originally voted in favor of the moratorium and said the VRBO issue was not unique to Glenwood Springs.
Ingraham noted he did believe the four-month compromise was too lengthy when it was first approved, but he ultimately agreed to it at that time.
"We gave the public our word that this would be a four-month process and that means a lot to me … I feel like we at least should be in a position to pretty quickly decide what changes we are going to make," Ingraham said.
Not wanting to see the moratorium go on for another two to three months, Ingraham agreed to stick with the March 14 termination date. That means the city will have just a little over a month to come up with new recommendations on how to proceed with vacation rental policies going forward, or stick with the rules that are already on the books.