Glenwood Springs City Council suspends new permits for vacation rentals
The Glenwood Springs City Council voted Thursday night to impose a four-month moratorium on vacation rentals by owner (VRBOs) permits after a fraught two-hour debate.
Five of the council supported a moratorium on new VRBO permits, for four months, while staff engages in a “robust public process” to study the issue and constituent concerns.
For more than an hour, the council heard impassioned pleas from constituents on both sides of the issue after the first reading of a proposed ordinance that would prevent granting any new permits for VRBOs for six months.
Those against the moratorium argued that renting out rooms in their home, or their entire home while traveling, has allowed them to live the mountain lifestyle they desired and afford to live in the valley.
Constituents in favor of the moratorium argued the community needs more time to discuss the best way to both improve affordable housing as well as preserve the character of the neighborhoods. Some shared stories about the adverse effects of VRBOs in their neighborhood, like loud parties, and renters leaving trash for bears to find.
The passion of the constituent comments was reflected by the council, as members clashed over whether a moratorium is helpful.
“All the sudden our neighborhoods are up for sale, when we thought we were buying into a stable community,” Councilor Shelly Kaup said. “That’s a concern to me.”
The moratorium was opposed outright by Councilor Todd Leahy and Mayor Michael Gamba.
Leahy said the moratorium would increase the number of short term rentals rather than decrease them. The moratorium would not take effect until at least 10 days after signing of any ordinance, during which time homeowners could register as a VRBO even if they had no intention of renting out their home to visitors.
“I think that the moratorium is going to do more harm than good,” Gamba said. He said he would consider applying for a permit himself if the moratorium passes.
Councilor Steve Davis suggested the four-month moratorium, in part to compromise on the length and because of the upcoming council election next April.
Ward 5 Councilor Jonathan Godes, who proposed the ordinance, insisted on a “robust public process” during the moratorium.
Offered Leahy, however, “This is what government looks at its worst, because we’re doing land use issues, we’re doing moratoriums, which have serious consequences, and we’re doing it on the run.
“It’s actually embarrassing,” he said.
Leahy apologized for the chaos created in the market by the moratorium, and to city staff whom he believes will have to deal with an influx of applications for VRBO permits.
He also criticized the process, which he says has been “skirted since the moment Jonathan found red solo cups in his yard,” Leahy said.
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The Glenwood Springs city council voted to approve planning a public engagement process for South Canyon improvement possibilities, along with a request for proposals from developers.