Steamboat has identified 2,869 short-term rentals operating inside the city ahead of licensing, hotline rollout |

Steamboat has identified 2,869 short-term rentals operating inside the city ahead of licensing, hotline rollout

These STRs are being advertised on more than 6,100 online postings

The company working on the enforcement of new short-term rental regulations has identified 2,869 such rentals within Steamboat Springs advertised in more than 6,100 different online postings.

The company, Granicus, is still looking for more short-term rental advertisements as they are posted, but the number is relatively close to what City Council expected it to be when regulations were drafted last year.

Licensing is the next step in the process, and city Planning Director Rebecca Bessey told council on Tuesday, Feb. 14, that the licensing process should be rolling out soon, though she didn’t have an official date.

“I really wish I could have been here with a big, bold date for you,” Bessey said. “But I want to get the public outreach materials done first, and I want to roll this out the right way. So just a little more patience, but we’re very close.”

Bessey told City Council the short-term rental complaint hotline is also close to rolling out, but it’s not quite done yet. She told the Steamboat Pilot & Today earlier this month that she expected the hotline to be available by the end of February.

The hotline won’t roll out with all the capabilities it is expected to eventually have because the city doesn’t have the ability to contact short-term rental operators with complaints until the operators are licensed. Granicus is currently finishing up work to alter the hotline programming to remove the option to contact the operator.

When licensing is in place — council moved the deadline to April 30 — Bessey said she didn’t think switching things back would cause any delay.

“I’ve been checking in with them on a regular basis, and they have assured me that they should be done very soon,” Bessey said. “When we’re ready to go live with that, we’ll have information on the website.”

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Bessey said Granicus has recommended reaching out to property managers directly so they are familiar with the hotline and don’t ignore an early morning call about a complaint.

Since the overlay zones were put in place, the city has approved 169 legal nonconforming status applications and another 84 are still pending. These come into play where a short-term rental is in a red or yellow zone, which either forbids or restricts the number allowed in that zone.

Just five applications have been denied, Bessey said. In each of those cases, they were single-family homes or duplexes operating without a vacation home rental permit, which is illegal. Because they were not operating legally, Bessey said, the city couldn’t grant the properties legal nonconforming status.

Another 45 applications were withdrawn, but Bessey said many of these were duplicate applications.

While getting the licensing in place and the hotline up and running have been high priorities, Bessey said the city has also been focused on enforcement. Since October 2021, when city staff started working with Granicus, there have been 19 cases where a short-term rental was not operating with proper permitting under the old code.

Of those, 15 cases led to a plea deal, one led to a two-year ban, two were dismissed because the city was unable to serve the rental owner and the last one is still pending. City Attorney Dan Foote said there has been a problem with serving two of the owners because they are owned by out-of-state businesses, which can’t be issued an arrest warrant for failing to appear in municipal court.

“We’re kicking around some ideas as to things we can do to change the code to allow us to get to those situations,” Foote said. “As of now, there are a couple where the judge was not satisfied with what we were able to do.”

Foote said that when licensing is in place, every short-term rental will have a contact person, which will better allow the city to address complaints. Since the code changed, the city has identified four short-term rentals that were operating illegally, and those cases are still pending, Bessey said.

“In the case of complaints and things like that, I think once we have these licensed, we have a much better enforcement strategy and tools,” Bessey said.

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