City Council returning from break for special session Tuesday to discuss short-term rentals |

City Council returning from break for special session Tuesday to discuss short-term rentals

After a weekslong break, Steamboat Springs City Council has called a special work session Tuesday to discuss more policies for regulating short-term rentals.

Because it is a work session, council will not make any formal decisions, but members will direct city staff to explore a variety of potential regulations.

After enacting a six-month moratorium on vacation home rental permits and declaring the matter a crisis, council members will dedicate at least one meeting each month to exploring policy around regulating short-term rentals.

In Tuesday’s meeting, council members will specifically evaluate restricting short-term rentals to certain locations through the creation of one or more overlay zones, which are subzones placed over already-existing zones.

While council is exploring several sides of what has become a contentious discussion around where short-term rentals belong in the city, members are specifically focusing on regulating them to certain areas at Tuesday’s discussion.

Many council members and city residents have claimed short-term rentals are having a negative impact on neighborhoods, as full-time residents say they are tired of seeing new neighbors every few days and dealing with loud noise and other issues that may come from those renting a house or condo while on vacation.

“When it comes to neighborhood character, council has received a great number of emails from citizens complaining about the impact of short-term rentals,” said council member Kathi Meyer. “Primarily as it relates to noise, trash, traffic and people say it’s like living next to a hotel.”

The city currently only requires permits for vacation home rentals, a type of short-term rental where an entire house is rented. Such houses are usually owned by a second-home owner and rented out by a property management company.

A map designed by Steamboat Lodging Co. CEO Sarah Bradford shows the percentage of vacation home rental permits dispersed by neighborhood, with 35.55% coming from the area south of Steamboat Resort, defined as south of Walton Creek Road and east of Whistler Road; 22.75% north of the resort, defined as Steamboat Boulevard, Burgess Creek Road and Clubhouse Drive; 17% on Hilltop Drive, Fish Creek Falls Drive, Blue Sage Drive and Anglers Drive; 15.64% in Old Town; 3.32% from west of Whistler Road, including U.S. Highway 40; 1.9% in the Fairview neighborhood; 1.42% in the Sunlight neighborhood; 1.42% in the Brooklyn neighborhood; and 0.47% in the Riverside and West End Village neighborhood.

A map of where all vacation home rental permits are issued in the city.

“The data, to me, says that we have a problem with unregulated uses in certain neighborhoods,” said Robin Craigen, CEO of Moving Mountains, during the public comment period of a previous council meeting. “Extending the moratorium isn’t fixing the problem that you’re trying to fix.”

Because the city only requires permits for vacation home rentals, it is difficult to determine exactly how many short-term rentals exist in city limits. City data shows there are 221 permits issued, but Bradford estimated there may be closer to 4,000 unregulated units in the city.

To address this issue, council members have agreed to begin requiring permits for short-term rentals of any kind and applying any policy decisions to all short-term rentals.

“The whole point of this is to maintain neighborhood integrity and keep our neighborhoods as neighborhoods so we don’t lose Steamboat,” said council member Robbin Crossan. “The first step of that is we need to know where they are and make sure every single unit is safe.”

While council will not take any official vote Tuesday, members of the public will be able to make comments during public comment time.

Short-term rental policy is the only item on the council’s agenda, and council members have budgeted two hours for discussion.

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