Post Independent opinion: OK short-term, vacation rentals |

Post Independent opinion: OK short-term, vacation rentals

Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Glenwood Springs city councilor Mike Gamba recently asked why short-term and vacation rentals aren’t allowed in residential zones.

Good question.

As it turns out, city staff and City Council have given considerable thought in the past to how to make this work.

We recommend allowing these types of rentals with the right permit process to minimize problems. At its simplest, it’s a way for homeowners to earn a little extra cash, and it is nice to have the freedom to use your property as you see fit. And some homeowners may not want their property tied up with long-term renters.

The city could also benefit from increased lodging and sales tax dollars on rentals of 30 days or less. Rentals for longer periods are not subject to tax.

A strong voice of opposition in March 2008 came from then-Mayor Bruce Christensen, who said that allowing these types of rentals is “a step toward destruction of neighborhoods,” meaning, presumably, that it’s hard to build community with people who are just visiting. On the other hand, it could just as easily enrich residents’ lives to meet people from other parts of the country or the world.

Neighbors are also liable to express legitimate concerns about noise, lack of parking, trash buildup and presence of unfamiliar pets.

For this reason, neighbors should be able to have a say when a permit application is reviewed, and the city should be able to assure them that those concerns have been factored into the permitting process. Perhaps strong opposition from neighbors could factor into denial of the application as a way to respect the wishes of the neighborhood as a whole.

One condition of the rental permit should be a limit on the number of people allowed. These are still residential areas, so occupancy should reflect what would normally be expected in such a unit, maybe erring on the conservative side. Limiting the occupants would go a long way toward dealing with noise, trash and parking concerns. Otherwise, a visiting fraternity might turn a home into Animal House for a month.

Permits for these types of rentals should be reviewed annually. This would give neighbors the comfort of knowing that should a rental end up being a problem they would have recourse. If there were complaints from neighbors or a history of problems with the police, these could be cause for nonrenewal.

While there is certainly a risk that going forward with such a plan will cause a few headaches, with some conditions applied this should be a fairly benign way to allow citizens the opportunity to earn some extra cash.

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