Glenwood vacation rentals meeting seeks some compromise
January 16, 2019
It was a full house Wednesday evening for a public meeting at the Glenwood Springs Community Center to discuss city policy over vacation rentals by property owners.
The standing-room-only crowd, by a show of hands, was full of citizens who had in fact taken the city's online survey on the topic, too.
"Don't shoot the messenger, because this is what you told me," Glenwood Springs Community Development Senior Planner Hannah Klausman said, drawing laughter at the beginning of the discussion.
Late last year, the contentious topic eventually led to a 5-2 council vote in favor of a four-month moratorium on permits for short-term vacation rentals, commonly known as VRBOs. Since then, city staff has not issued any new VRBO permits beyond the 134 currently permitted.
Anything but contentious, the Wednesday meeting brought VRBO home owners and their concerned neighbors together seeking some compromise on the issue.
According to the survey, which was taken by almost 500 citizens, roughly 67 percent of respondents said they believe vacation rentals should be allowed in Glenwood Springs.
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Additionally, 80 percent of those surveyed did not "own or operate one or more vacation rentals in Glenwood Springs," either.
Although those in attendance Wednesday believed that the city should require a permit to operate a vacation rental, exactly how much it should cost drew, perhaps, the most debate.
While the majority supported an annual fee of $110, a healthy margin also believed the current cost of a one-time fee of $110 was sufficient.
Kent and Cindy Stewart, who have owned a home in Glenwood Springs for 27 years and also rent out space on a short-term basis for Glenwood visitors, said they attended the meeting to listen and learn.
"I think everyone feels the need for some kind of oversight and regulation to keep from annoying all of your neighbors, keep things safe, because otherwise it will get abused by somebody," Kent Stewart said.
The Stewarts explained that they are not large commercial developers, but rather ordinary Glenwood citizens just trying to make a few extra dollars a month to get by.
"We are not in it to make a lot of money," Cindy Stewart said. "We are supplementing into retirement."
"It motivates us to keep fixing the place up so we are actually always improving the value of our property," Kent Stewart added.
While the public meeting emphasized public participation, numerous city councilors including Steve Davis also attended. Davis said he mainly wanted to listen to the will of the people.
"It's been great, the feedback and a full house – can't hope for any more than that," Davis said. "I am very interested in trying to help people protect their neighborhoods, but I am also very interested in people protecting their rights to property ownership."
City staff will now further analyze the VRBO survey data, in addition to comments from Wednesday's public meeting. The results will then be presented to the Glenwood Planning and Zoning Commission in February for more evaluation, before council revisits the issue, likely in March.