Steamboat City Council identifies problems with short-term rentals, eyes new regulations

Steamboat Springs City Council members continued to discuss the issue of short-term rentals at Tuesday night’s work session as part of a larger conversation about the city’s current housing crisis. They informally voted to explore requiring permits, levying a fee for all short-term rentals and restricting where they could be located.

Council has been discussing short-term rentals for months and, in June, enacted a 90-day moratorium on applications for vacation home rental permits. They will vote next week to extend the moratorium to six months.

Vacation home rentals, which make up 211 of Steamboat’s short-term rental inventory, are currently the only form of short-term rentals that require a permit. Four community members spoke to council during public comment and said other short-term rentals, like condos and individual rooms, are also impacting the availability of affordable, workforce housing and changing the town’s character.

“Your neighborhoods are being destroyed by a cancer from within,” said Bill Jameson, a resident who lives on Burgess Creek Road. “If you don’t get a hold of this, short-term rentals are going to destroy this community and all of its neighborhoods.”

Seann Conway, a Steamboat resident who owns three restaurants, said the high number of short-term rentals has made it difficult for his staff to find housing they can afford.

“Coming into this winter is going to be another task beyond measure,” Conway said. “To be open with no staff is just as taxing and frightening as being closed.”

While many vacation home rentals are multimillion dollar homes near Steamboat Resort, condos in the neighborhoods to the east of the resort 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., but collected by KeyData, a short-term rental data firm used by the Steamboat Springs Chamber.

All seven council members agreed they wanted to explore permitting and regulating other forms of short-term rentals, because condos and apartments are housing options that could be rented by locals.

“I strongly believe that reserving locals housing is a big piece of this puzzle,” council member Lisel Petis said.

Council member Michael Buccino said he thinks deciding where short-term rentals will be allowed and how many can be in each neighborhood is another key solution to the city’s housing problem.

“If it’s not a problem in your neighborhood right now, it very well could be in the future if we don’t do something,” Buccino said. “To me, the problem isn’t as much affordable housing as it is losing our community character.”

Buccino also said he had a large group of people rent a vacation home rental in his neighborhood for the first time over the Fourth of July holiday, and the renters caused noise and trash issues.

“That just wasn’t what I signed up for in my neighborhood,” Buccino said.

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