Vail passes first version of short-term rental regulations

Council decides to forego per-room fees

The Vail Town Council gave first-reading approval Tuesday to new short-term rental regulations, but dropped an idea for a per-bedroom fee per licensed unit. Antlers Lodge Assistant General Manager Kim Newbury Rediker told council members the cost of that fee equals the Antlers’ entire budget for its front desk staff.
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The Vail Town Council Tuesday gave unanimous initial approval to a set of changes to the town’s short-term rental regulations. But council members decided to drop a proposal for a per-bedroom fee.

That proposed fee was perhaps the most controversial of the proposed changes.

The original idea was for per-bedroom fees per licensed unit to go into the town’s housing funds. The staff proposal noted that other mountain communities charge per-bedroom fees ranging from $400 in Breckenridge to between $500 and $1,000 in other communities. The staff memo recommended that Vail’s fees could be as much as $1,800 per bedroom.

Kim Newbury Rediker of the Antlers Lodge said per-bedroom fees that high would be “onerous,” adding that the fee alone equals the lodge’s entire budget for its front desk staff.

Newbury Rediker added that the fee could result in the loss of overnight lodging in town. That flies in the face of the Lionshead Master Plan, which calls for “no net loss” of lodging rooms in the area.

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Council members largely agreed with the opposition to the per-bedroom fee. Council member Kevin Foley also called the proposed fee “onerous.”

But the first reading of the ordinance did include items questioned by some residents and business managers.

Resident Greg Sowa questioned the need for regular fire inspections, adding that if the town requires inspections for short-term rentals, it should also require those inspections for long-term units.

Council member Travis Coggin called the issue of short-term rental regulation “perhaps the most complex we’ve tackled.”

While the council shelved the per-bedroom fee, the rest of the recommended changes remain largely intact.

Those changes include:

  • Increasing the license fee to an across-the-board $150 per unit, in order to cover the town’s costs
  • Increasing fines to $1,500 for the first violation and $2,650 for the second. A third violation means a three-year registration revocation
  • A requirement to carry commercial insurance is also included in the ordinance, which has also drawn opposition from some owners.

Mayor Kim Langmaid said town officials can look further into insurance issues before the second reading.

Langmaid said between emailed comments and Tuesday’s in-person and virtual comments, “We’ve heard a lot of great ideas,” adding that the council could pass the ordinance on first reading, then look at other options for regulating short-term rentals.

A few stats

Here are some of the results from a study conducted by RRC Associates and Economic and Planning Systems:

31% of Vail’s residential units are registered as short-term rentals.

Most of those units are in Vail’s resort areas

69% of the town’s housing stock is used for seasonal, recreational or occasional use.

Between 2010 and 2019, Vail saw a decline of 162 long-term rental units.

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