Glenwood’s vacation rental debate to resurface in early 2019 with more data, online survey results
December 20, 2018
The city of Glenwood Springs is in the process of gauging public opinion regarding rules and regulations for short-term vacation rental properties.
After City Council implemented a moratorium on vacation rentals by owner (VRBO) earlier this year, numerous citizens have voiced their thoughts, both for and against, what some viewed as a revolving door of short-term strangers instead of long-term neighbors.
Some, including Glenwood Mayor Michael Gamba, see the control over such activities by home owners as unnecessary government encroachment on people's private property rights.
"In my opinion, the moratorium accomplished nothing other than dramatically increasing the number of short-term rental (STR) permits in town," Gamba said.
“In my opinion, the moratorium accomplished nothing other than dramatically increasing the number of short-term rental permits in town.”– Michael Gamba, Glenwood Springs mayor
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The mayor pointed out that, prior to the Oct. 4 council meeting when the idea of a moratorium was first discussed, there were 75 short-term rentals. There were also 13 so-called accessory tourist rentals, which allows people to rent a bedroom in their house on a short-term basis.
As of Nov. 16, when the moratorium went into effect, there were 119 short-term rentals and 15 accessory tourist rentals.
"This is a 58.6 percent increase in the number of short-term rentals and a 15.4 percent increase in the number of accessory tourist rentals," Gamba noted.
public survey launched
Following the moratorium, the city created a survey for residents of Glenwood Springs to take ahead of public meetings scheduled for January when the contentious conversation will resurface.
"We have had about 335 responses so far," Glenwood Springs City Councilor Jonathan Godes said in an interview Thursday regarding the survey. "The community needs to have some time to talk about it and process it."
The survey, which can be accessed via the city website [www.ci.glenwood-springs.co.us] asks a little over 20 questions ranging from, "Do you believe that property owners should be able to have vacation rentals on their properties without any regulation?" to "What do you think is an appropriate permit fee?"
Prior to the moratorium, in order to obtain a permit, one had to pay a one-time fee of $110.
According to Godes, who supported the moratorium, there was, on average, more than one permit every week that was being submitted to the city's Community Development Department. That, in part, led to the VRBO debate and subsequent moratorium, he said.
weighing the input
In Glenwood Springs, two types of vacation rentals exist. A short-term rental allows a property owner to rent out an entire dwelling, whereas an accessory tourist rental allows the owner to rent out a single bedroom within a dwelling, with an on-site manager present.
Godes said city staff, in addition to listening to the community's input via the survey was also researching how other municipalities, such as Breckenridge and Durango, have handled vacation rental permits themselves.
"They are going to look at some of the unintended consequences that those communities have experienced," Godes said. "That is going to be rolled in with the January community meeting."
According to Godes, the city will hold a public meeting in January, separate from a regular City Council meeting, to evaluate the survey's results and city staff's research, and to gather more input from the community at large.
"Then, in February, those recommendations and this community input is going to go to [Glenwood Springs Planning and Zoning Commission]," Godes explained. "We are trying to get our boards and commissions more involved in these things to make recommendations because these are the community's representatives."
Godes expected that following January's community meeting and a recommendation from planning and zoning in February, vacation rentals would appear again as an agenda item for council consideration at one of its meetings in March.
"All of those people and opinions and outreach will ultimately weigh in on what we do or what we don't do," Godes said.
"Quite frankly, I don't know what to expect with any new regulations," Mayor Gamba said. "I suspect that a number of issues will be discussed. I was generally opposed to the moratorium, because I believed that any modifications to the existing code related to short-term and tourist rentals could best be made without a moratorium.
"This belief was based on the expectation that the simple enactment of a moratorium would result in a very dramatic increase in the total number of permits. Based on the numbers … this expectation has clearly been realized."
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