Questionnaire invites community to share thoughts about short-term rentals
Short-term rentals and how they impact affordable housing and neighborhood character have become a hot-button topic in Steamboat Springs. To begin addressing concerns around the issue, Steamboat Springs City Council has enacted a moratorium on vacation home rentals and is exploring various policies for regulating the issue.
While council has heard from more than a dozen people during the public comment section of city meetings, Steamboat City Manager Gary Suiter said many do not have time to speak in front of council or may be too intimidated to do so.
“Public engagement is always a challenge at the local level,” Suiter said. “One needs multiple ways to conduct outreach to our citizenry.”
To combat any barriers to residents, the city has launched an online option at EngageSteamboat.net where residents are given several options for proposed ways to regulate short-term rentals.
“Not everyone can come to council meetings and speak at the podium or send emails,” Steamboat Planning Director Rebecca Bessey said. “We wanted to give some kind of a tool where folks have means to give a little more input after they’ve been provided some more information.”
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Questionnaire respondents are asked to rank a series of options from 1 to 8, with 1 being the favorite choice and 8 being the least-favorite choice. The options are broken into categories: regulate less, disincentivize, keep the status quo, improve and increase enforcement, broaden land-use permit requirements, add more restrictive use standards, restrict short-term rentals to certain locations and limit by density or concentration. Each category has more detail and options under it.
“The question can’t just be, ‘How do you feel about short-term rentals?’” Suiter said. “We need more direction than that.”
Any regulation of short-term rentals is ultimately up to council, but Council President Jason Lacy said he has heard strong opinions on all sides of short-term rental debates, and the goal of the questionnaire is to obtain more data from community members, particularly those who may not speak out publicly.
“For the people that are looking at us to take a stronger regulatory approach, we’re tying to get some meaningful feedback on which of the options out there might be what the community feels is best,” Lacy said. “We’ve heard a lot about short-term rentals for months now, but we’re trying to focus the decision to narrow down some of the policy options that community members could get behind or not.”
Lacy said EngageSteamboat.net also serves as a resource to educate the public on what regulations currently exist around short-term rentals, which currently only include vacation home rentals, a single-family home or duplex where the entire unit is rented.
While many vacation home rentals are multimillion-dollar homes near Steamboat Resort, condos in that area make up much of Steamboat’s short-term rental market, according to data submitted to City Council and Steamboat Pilot & Today by Sarah Bradford, owner of Steamboat Lodging Co., and collected by KeyData, a short-term rental data firm used by the Steamboat Springs Chamber.
Lacy said no matter which regulations council decides to enact, such regulations are likely to include all short-term rentals, not just vacation home rentals.
Council is on a two-week break, and will discuss short-term rentals again at its next meeting Aug. 17.
Those interested in completing the questionnaire may do so at engagesteamboat.net/str.
To reach Alison Berg, call 970-871-4229 or email aberg@SteamboatPilot.com.
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