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Glenwood Springs temporarily suspends non-critical short-term lodging

Fewer vacation rentals for the Glenwood Springs area have appeared on sites like VRBO.com lately. City Council decided to suspend short-term lodging at its regularly scheduled meeting Thursday. Matthew Bennett / Post Independent

A Glenwood Springs City Council discussion about whether or not vacation rentals should be allowed to operate during the COVID-19 crisis ended up having much broader implications.

Thursday night, at its regularly scheduled meeting, city council voted unanimously to temporarily suspend short-term lodging operations in Glenwood Springs.

“Hotels, and places of accommodation” were deemed critical businesses exempt from Gov. Jared Polis’ stay-at-home order.

Critical businesses must still comply with social distancing requirements at all times.

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“From my perspective, legally, I can’t differentiate and I don’t have the facts to differentiate why a VRBO would be different than a hotel,” said Karl Hanlon, Glenwood Springs city attorney.

Altogether, the city has 99 vacation rentals on the grid – 88 short-term rentals and 11 accessory tourist rentals.

Short-term rental owners can rent out their entire property whereas those with an accessory tourist unit can only offer a single room.

Council’s decision to suspend short-term lodging operations not only applies to vacation rentals, but hotels, motels and other forms of accommodation for 30 days or less – with some exceptions.

According to a news release, lodging facilities can only stay open to accommodate critical business employees or those “performing a critical government function.”

Individuals may also book reservations for “purposes of obtaining a primary place of residence” the release stated.

“I think many of us have family members that may possibly be trying to separate themselves,” Glenwood resident Alesha Frederick said at Thursday’s meeting. “I think we do have to remember that self-regulation is very apparent here.”

Several vacation rentals in Glenwood Springs don’t list any availability until the end of April and multiple hotels and motels have already shut down voluntarily.

“I realize it’s an economic hit and I think we’ve got good citizens running our (vacation rentals),” Councilor Rick Voorhees said. “I believe in self-regulation and I’d like to leave it at that but there’s always one or two loopholes out there.”

While members of city council wanted to accommodate critical workers, they did not want to attract individuals traveling without a significant reason.

“We cannot afford to overload our infrastructure, it’s not safe,” Councilor Tony Hershey said. “It’s our job to keep the people of Glenwood Springs safe — not the people of Denver, not the people of New York, not the people of California or Arizona — the people of Glenwood Springs.”

Beginning April 6, lodging facilities can no longer accept any new bookings or reservations during the order which lasts through May 7.

Current reservations up to and including May 7 must also be canceled.

Additionally, current occupants of lodging facilities can stay until their reservation expires. 

mabennett@postindependent.com


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