Vail moves forward with new regulations for Airbnbs, other short-term rentals
VAIL — After months of public comment and debate, the Vail Town Council has passed on first reading an ordinance regulating short-term rentals in town.
The regulations come as more property owners in town are using internet-based services including Airbnb to rent their units. The town for more than a year has worked to collect lodging taxes from owners, but council members decided more regulations were needed.
The proposed regulations still fall on the less-stringent end of the scale among mountain towns. Durango and Jackson, Wyoming, in particular, assess heavy fees and impose other requirements that make short-term rentals difficult.
Under the proposed ordinance, owners in Vail who want to short-term rent their units will have to meet requirements including:
“This comes down to the opinion of one person, not necessarily based on facts. It opens itself to abuse.”Patrick HerliheyVail resident
• Acquiring a business license from the town and posting that license number on all internet ads.
• A signed affidavit for each unit rented to acknowledge compliance with trash, noise and parking requirements. Owners must also verify that safety equipment including fire extinguishers and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors is in the unit. Owners must also comply with homeowner association requirements.
• Information about the unit’s owner, as well as a 24-hour contact number, must be prominently posted.
• Violations that aren’t resolved with owners or property managers will be reported to the town. Owners with three or more town-assessed violations will have their licenses revoked for two years.
• Business licenses are held by owners, not the property. If a unit sells, then the new owners must apply for a new business license and meet other town requirements.
• In duplex units that have shared property including stairs or driveways, an owner wishing to do short-term rentals must obtain the consent of the other owner before being granted a town business license. Owners of duplex units that don’t have shared property are required only to notify the other unit owner.
The issue of consent has been a thorny one for council members, and that discussion continued Tuesday.
“I’ve received more emails on (consent) than any other item,” Mayor Dave Chapin said, adding that some people argue that requiring consent is taking a property right from owners.
Council member Jenn Bruno, who has favored the consent requirement since it was proposed, said while some owners may lose property rights, others may lose quality of life if short-term renters are unruly. And, Bruno said, having short-term renters on common areas can also lead to higher insurance rates.
“It’s only fair that you contact your neighbor and get them to agree,” she said.
New council member Travis Coggin said he’s uncomfortable with owner consent.
“Right now, a neighbor doesn’t have recourse against a bad (unwilling) neighbor,” Coggin said
While previous hearings have had plenty of public comment on both sides of the regulation issue, only a few residents spoke up Tuesday, Nov. 21.
Resident Patrick Herlihey was also against requiring consent from duplex neighbors.
“This comes down to the opinion of one person, not necessarily based on facts,” Herlihey said. “It opens itself to abuse.”
Resident Stephen Connolly said notification should apply to more than simply next-door neighbors. Connolly, who runs a bed and breakfast operation from his home, said when applying for that permit, he was required to notify several of his neighbors.
But, Connolly added, “I think we’re pretty close to having a good ordinance here.”
Ultimately, the council voted unanimously to approve the ordinance on first reading. But the consent/notification issue is likely to arise again during the second and final reading of the ordinance, set for Tuesday, Dec. 5.
Still, Foley said, “We’re at the point where we’ve talked this to death. … I’m willing to support it now.”
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, email@example.com and @scottnmiller.
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