Eagle-Vail divided over short-term rentals | VailDaily.com

Eagle-Vail divided over short-term rentals

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado

EAGLE-VAIL, Colorado ” Ongoing disagreements over whether or not Eagle-Vail homeowners can rent their homes short-term led to the replacement of top officers on property owners board.

The neighborhood was due to elect two new board members at their annual property owners association meeting last week, but instead a contingent of owners represented by Patrick Carter, a second-home owner from Oklahoma, forced the resignation of board president Jeff Layman, said board secretary Kim Bell Williams.

The disagreements stemmed from a ban on short-term rentals the board started enforcing over the last year, and some residents were fined for renting out their homes to vacationers.

Short-term rentals have always been banned according to the Eagle-Vail bylaws, the board said. Board members defined “short-term” as any rental less than four months in April 2007.

“When you have weekly rentals, it invariably disturbs duplex-mates or the people who live in the neighborhood. When new residents are coming in all the time, it disturbs the residential character,” Layman said.

Some residents, including Carter, who had been renting his property short-term, felt the ban was unfair and were worried it would cause their property values to drop.

“This policy eliminates almost all investment and out-of-town buyers and leaves the only potential buyers as people who want to buy and live in Eagle-Vail full-time,” wrote a group of residents opposed to the ban. “The demands will be significantly reduced. The impact will be huge.”

In response, the board put a moratorium on the short-term rental ban last Monday and planned to discuss the matter with residents before coming up with a policy, said Williams.

“We welcome the dialogue, and if we’ve made a decision residents are unhappy with, we would be happy to reconsider,” Layman said in an earlier interview.

However, at Wednesday’s meeting, Carter brought several lawyers who said the Eagle-Vail laws did allow short-term rentals. Carter then asked Layman to step down as president, and board Vice President Paul Hields also resigned. Then Carter, using more than 200 “proxy votes,” from absent local residents and second-home owners, voted himself and several other residents onto the board.

Williams is now acting board president after Layman’s resignation. Newly elected board members after last week’s meeting are Tracy Walters, an incumbent member, Mike Connolly, Patrick Carter, and Mike Kissler.

“It was sad for me as a homeowner because these meetings are meant to bring the neighborhood together, not tear it apart,” said Williams. “My goal for the future is to bring a voice to the second-home owners and find more forums to bring people together.”

Eagle-Vail resident Dana Gumber said she does not rent out her home, but thinks short-term rentals should be allowed. Putting limits on what the property can be used for limits the value of the home, she said.

Long-term renters can cause more problems than short-term renters, some residents also said.

“You look down Eagle Road and you see couches on the street and garbage left out for a week. But with short-term renters, they’re truly here to have vacation and they’ll tend to keep things nicer,” Gumber said.

However, people who do rent out their homes should be considerate of who they rent to, she said.

Connolly, one of the new board members, said he knows many people who have been renting out their home to vacationers.

“The values of properties in Eagle-Vail have gone up so that they’re beyond the affordability reach of most of the locals in the valley. They’re more likely to be purchased by second-home owners, and many do short-term rentals to help cover costs,” he said.

The new board will need to get the opinions of residents and then come up with rules to make sure renters don’t disturb the neighborhood, he said.

“I’m in favor of letting the residents decide for themselves,” he said.

Full-time resident Karl Krueger said short-term rentals damage the quality of the community. It has been disruptive when the other owners of his duplex home have rented to groups of up to 15 people.

“People come in at 12 a.m., take their bags up the stairs and start drinking when 1 1/2 feet away people are trying to sleep,” he said.

Short-term rentals also take away from Eagle-Vail’s sense of community, he said.

“Eagle-Vail has always been one of the places that I felt was more real. It has houses and neighbors and parks,” he said. “I’m just worried there will be no community. There’s not very much authenticity left in the valley.”

Several residents complained about Carter ” who advertises that his home can house 13 people ” renting out his home. That was what prompted the board to enforce the rules, Williams said.

Resident Tsu Wolin-Brown said she thinks homeowners should be able to do what they want with their property, but the situation was poorly handled at last week’s board meeting, she said.

“Maybe the (old) board has been making some bad decisions, but we feel they’re conscientious and generally do a good job,” she said.

Krueger, despite opposing short-term renting, said he is upbeat about the new board.

“I’ve lived here since 1998, and I’ve never been to a property owner’s association meeting,” he said. “It’s brought me to be interested as a property owner and I’m talking to my neighbors more than I ever have.”

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 748-2928 or mwong@vaildaily.com.

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