Steamboat City Council redirects short-term rental talk, asks Planning Commission to slow down overlay zones
Steamboat Springs City Council directed the city’s Planning Commission on Tuesday night to shift gears on making policy around short-term rentals.
Originally, City Council asked Planning Commission members to review a map of the city and vote on where overlay zones prohibiting short-term rentals could be placed. But during Tuesday’s meeting, City Council members adjusted course and asked commissioners to have a non-vote discussion about overlay zones.
“I think that’s a little fast and preliminary since (the Planning Commission hasn’t) even had the chance to have a work session on it and give us detailed feedback,” said Council President Jason Lacy. “I know there are some concerns about needing to speed this along because council is changing, but I find that to be not a major concern because anything we do can easily be changed by four new people.”
Instead of trying to do first and second readings on overlay zones by the Nov. 2 election, council will now have a discussion of its own Sept. 20. At that time, council will set a general process and timeline for the next steps they would like to pursue. Council members will not finalize any action or take official votes Sept. 20.
“It seems like we still have a lot of questions to answer and having a first reading seems pretty preliminary at this point,” Lacy said.
Lacy and council member Kathi Meyer also discussed the executive session council members had with City Attorney Dan Foote at their Aug. 25 meeting in which Foote advised council members of potential legal issues with setting overlay zones.
“Based on the work session and our executive session discussion, we have a lot of questions to answer still before we’re ready for first reading,” Lacy said, adding he could not discuss specifics of the private conversation between council members and Foote.
The moratorium on applying for vacation home rental permits, which council set in June, is still set to expire Oct. 31, though council members could vote to extend or shorten it at any time.
While council members did not discuss the topic at length Tuesday, council members Lisel Petis and Michael Buccino suggested using the Sept. 20 meeting to revisit the moratorium and consider lifting it in certain spots, primarily areas surrounding Steamboat Resort with a lower population of full-time locals, and extending it in others, such as the Old Town, Fish Creek and Blue Sage neighborhoods typically characterized as locals neighborhoods.
“I don’t like the moratorium in the entire city right now because there are some distinct areas that the moratorium should be lifted, in my opinion,” Buccino said. “If we can come up with a way to extend the moratorium in some neighborhoods across town and lift the moratorium in others, we can buy time on creating a good overlay zone, which I think we need more time on.”
Sarah Bradford, co-owner of Steamboat Lodging Co., and Robin Craigen, co-founder and CEO of Moving Mountains, spoke to council and asked members to remove the moratorium in certain areas. If council members agreed, Bradford said she, Craigen and others in the council chambers, who ceded their public comment time to allow Bradford to speak longer than the allotted three minutes, would support council extending the moratorium past Oct. 31 in certain neighborhoods. Bradford and Craigen said they had a map ready to show council members where they believe the moratorium should be extended and where it makes sense to end.
“This is a good solution of cutting out some of these areas by the mountain that we all agree probably won’t be prohibited in the long run if sound minds take over here (on council),” Bradford said.
“Let’s attack the problem,” Bradford added. “We all want enforcement of a few bad actors. Let’s not make hasty public policy decisions that have permanent, unintended consequences on the Steamboat community.”
Council member Sonja Macys recused herself from the discussion because she has a vacation home rental permit.
To reach Alison Berg, call 970-871-4229 or email aberg@SteamboatPilot.com.
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