Steamboat vacation home rental moratorium, with some street exemptions, extended to Jan. 31, 2022
A moratorium on applying for vacation home rental permits in Steamboat Springs has been extended to Jan. 31, 2022, in most of the city, but several streets around Steamboat Resort are now exempt from the moratorium. Property owners wanting to apply for permits on those streets may do so beginning in five days.
Four of seven Steamboat Springs City Council members voted to support the ordinance Tuesday on its second reading. Council member Sonja Macys recused herself from the discussion, and members Heather Sloop and Kathi Meyer voted against the first and second readings.
Streets that would be exempt from the moratorium on vacation home rental permit applications.
• Alpenglow Way
• Anthonys Circle
• Bangtail Way
• Flat Tops Court
• Burgess Creek Road
• Burgess Pines Trail
• Kinnickinick Lane
• Stonecreek Court
• Temple Knolls
• Trails Edge
• Storm Meadows Drive
• Christie Drive
• Fox Ridge Lane
• Liftline Way
• Mountain View Lane
• Ridge Road
• Overlook Drive
• Poma Lane
• Ski Trail Court
• Ski Trail Lane
• Snowflake Circle
• Snowflake Court
Steamboat City Planning Director Rebecca Bessey proposed removing the streets from the moratorium based on their low density of local, full-time residents. Bessey obtained that metric by examining permanent addresses with data from the Routt County Assessor’s Office. Each of the proposed streets has a local population below 30%.
The moratorium only applies to vacation home rentals, which are a small subset of short-term rentals. The city’s code defines vacation home rentals as a single-family dwelling or duplex unit used as a lodging establishment where the owner or other permanent resident does not reside in the unit. There are currently 213 active, operating vacation home rental permits in the city.
What are the rules for short-term rentals?
Steamboat City Council and Planning Commission are considering creating overlay zones around short-term rentals, where rentals fall into one of three categories.
• By-right, meaning they would be allowed without needing a permit
• Restricted, meaning they would only be allowed under specific circumstances
• Prohibited, meaning they would not be allowed
Steamboat Springs Planning Commission is currently in the process of placing groups of streets into categories and deciding whether short-term rentals should be allowed by-right, restricted or prohibited in those areas. While the decision is ultimately up to City Council, council members have asked planning commissioners for their recommendation.
Because Planning Commission is still early in its process, Sloop said she was concerned about letting commissioners make their own decisions without a message from council that certain areas should be allowed by-right, which she believed excluding them from the moratorium would do.
“I feel like we’re kind of kicking Planning Commission in the teeth and saying, ‘Thanks for your work, but we’re going to change it before you even get done,’” Sloop said. “I feel like we’re doing their work for them without allowing them to do their job.”
Meyer said she believed some of the areas excluded from the moratorium were too broad, which is why she voted against the ordinance, despite supporting expanding the moratorium overall.
“I think some of them are multiple neighborhoods, and that’s where I have a concern,” Meyer said.
Council member Lisel Petis said she understood the concerns of other council members but felt confident the areas excluded from the moratorium would eventually be allowed by-right because of their low level of local density and higher number of visitors.
“My thought process is if we’re confident that those will likely not result in a ban on VHRs in that area, then I don’t see why they should be included,” Petis said. “We looked at the data, and these ones were clearly more tourist based in the long run.”
Council member Robin Crossan said she did not agree with Sloop that the council’s vote sent a bad message to Planning Commission, as the commission’s process is done independently of council decisions.
“I hope that no matter what decision we make, they will look at everything equally and fairly across the board, and if they come back and say, ‘City Council, we don’t like the way you did it, and this is what we’re proposing,’ then we have that to look at,” Crossan said. “Whichever direction it goes, it’s still going to allow Planning Commission to do their job.”
Before voting, council heard from several residents who supported extending the moratorium to allow Planning Commission and city staff time to create policy without more vacation home rental permits “flooding” the city.
“It has the benefit of helping ensure that the solution doesn’t get worse before it gets better,” said Mike Koponen, a resident on Bear Creek Drive. “It also gives city staff and council more time to investigate the additional policies from other mountain towns that have gotten serious about this.”
Kari Riegner, a Front Range resident who bought a second home on Hilltop Parkway earlier in the year and started the process of applying for a vacation home rental permit but was unable to complete the application due to the moratorium, urged council members to provide an exemption for those in her situation.
“The current exception is opening such a small part of the moratorium and may just be allowing those who have been doing it illegally to go ahead and submit their permits, rather than supporting us who have been following the process and already completed that first step,” Riegner said.
The Planning Commission will continue its discussion Oct. 25.
To reach Alison Berg, call 970-871-4229 or email aberg@SteamboatPilot.com.
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