On Thursday, Nov. 17, members of the Estes Valley Planning Advisory Committee hosted their second virtual meeting to discuss an initial public discussion draft of short-term rental(STR) and lodging regulations released on Oct. 27.
This meeting was partly due to the mass of concern and confusion that Estes Valley STR and lodging owners expressed with the proposed regulations. The belief among these individuals is that the several land-use code changes, occupancy rate standards and transferability guidelines would limit and possibly diminish their ability to maintain their rentals.
The Oct. 27 regulation draft was the same one used for this discussion, with a second draft reflecting public feedback planned for mid-December.
At the beginning of the meeting proceedings, advisory committee member Frank Theis stated that these regulations were driven by complaints received from residents over STRs – particularly those in residential neighborhoods.
Advisory committee member Rex Poggenpohl touched on the created regulations saying that he believes the county staff did a great job issuing them in a timely fashion with room for public involvement.
“Those who complain they haven’t had sufficient time to review proposed regulations are those who chose not to get involved in the rewriting process in a timely fashion,” said Poggenpohl.
Poggenpohl went on to address the presence of STRs in residential areas, saying that they need to be diminished, if not eliminated, over time in order to eliminate grievances.
Aside from these comments, the majority of the advisory committee discussion revolved around licensing transferability and the grandfathering of existing STRs.
Within these regulations, transferability is vastly limited, with the STR licensing going with the property. This means that when a property is sold, the license to that STR is available to the prospecting field of those wishing to own a property.
Some members touched on the existence of family-owned rentals being able to be passed down to future generations. An idea proposed on this matter was that existing STR owners be able to extend the licensing to one generation or another specified owner.
One advisory committee member voiced a balance of fairness that needs to be taken into account concerning this license transferability. The member explained that STR owners wishing for licensing continuation need some ability, while neighboring properties that have seen property values drop due to being next to an STR need to be respected as well.
In the issue of existing STRs being grandfathered in from new regulations, many committee members were in favor.
Advisory committee member Linda Moak was one of these members, saying that she knows of several owners who have kept up with safety regulations by making modifications to their properties.
“I can’t see revoking licenses of people that have already been licensed prior to these regulations,” said Moak. “If they’ve never had complaints and they’re operating within the perimeter of what I would consider good neighboring policy, then they should be cleared.”
Another advisory committee member touched on the grandfathering subject when addressing standards in land use regulations that are not retroactive for existing STRs.
The committee member touched on certain safety regulation mandates that would compromise these existing STRs.
Community Development Director Lesli Ellis cleared up these concerns by explaining that these certain codes would not extend to existing STRs.
Touching on Moak’s concern, Ellis stated, “There is nothing in these draft regulations that would take away or stop somebody who has an existing legal short-term rental to operate.”
During the public comment portion, the majority of community member feedback had to do with the root of complaints against STRs and transferability regulations.
Estes Valley STR owner Liz Mulhern had questions about neighborhood complaints being tied to unlicensed STRs. Mulhern’s concern was that the bulk of these complaints was from unlicensed STRs and, in turn, were causing licensed STRs to be unfairly lumped into that group.
“There is way too much for all of us [licensed STR owners] at risk not to be managing our properties or having them managed so that these complaints do not arise,” said Mulhern.
Mulhern asked that the advisory committee clarify the cause of these complaints and make a distinction between the two entities.
Another Estes Valley STR owner voiced concerns with the limited transferability that advisory committee members discussed. The individual expressed that they have had their rental property in their family for generations with no complaints and that being able to transfer the property to their son, but no further down the line, would be disheartening.
As discussion time came to a close with multiple members of the public still waiting to voice their questions, another meeting was planned for the early weeks of December.
Current draft of regulations can be found at www.Larimer.gov/planning/short-term-rentals.