Vail rejects short-term rental moratorium
Town instead will conduct a study of impacts, economics
The Vail Town Council on Tuesday backed away from a 90-day moratorium on new short-term rental regulations but agreed to go ahead with a study to learn more about short-term rental impacts in town.
Council members by a 5-2 vote rejected an emergency ordinance to authorize the moratorium. Council members Kim Langmaid and Brian Stockmar voted for the ordinance, while Kevin Foley, Jenn Bruno, Jen Mason, Travis Coggin and Mayor Dave Chapin voted against the motion.
Council members then immediately directed staff to conduct a survey that includes the town’s registration fee structure and the impacts on long-term rentals in town.
The debate brought a wave of public comment, both in person and via Zoom. Most who spoke about the matter opposed the ordinance.
Via Zoom, William Francis told council members he currently has a contract to buy a unit in East Vail. Francis said he plans to use the unit in the summer. Short-term rentals in the winter will make that purchase possible, Francis said.
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Francis encouraged the study, but he told council members that a pause in registrations “would torch everything on my side.”
Violating property rights?
Crissy Rumford, the branch broker at Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate’s Lionshead office, said the proposed ordinance was a “knee jerk” reaction on the town’s part and a “violation of personal property rights,” since the suspension would preclude owners from making full use of their property.
Realtor Kevin Kuebert spoke after Francis did, and noted that his story “is real life. This is going to affect a lot of people’s lives.”
Kuebert encouraged council members to do the study, without suspending registrations.
Langmaid, a backer of the proposed ordinance, suggested perhaps exempting people with units currently under contract. She also suggested exemptions for those whose Vail units are their primary residences.
The ordinance as proposed already exempted units in the town’s resort villages, as well as condos that have front desk services.
“How many exemptions are we going to have?” Bruno asked. Bruno acknowledged that the town’s housing shortage has reached “crisis” levels but encouraged conducting the study without the proposed temporary registration moratorium.
After Town Manager Scott Robson noted there probably wouldn’t be many registration applications over the next 90 days, Stockmar said that would be a “reasonable cost” for a thorough study.
Rumford and others noted that Vail homes sold these days haven’t been used as long-term rentals in the past and are unlikely to be used for that in the hands of new owners. Those units are likely to be used as short-term rentals so owners can use them at times, Rumford said.
There’s an effect
Chapin and Coggin disputed the assertion that Vail homes haven’t been used as long-term rentals, saying they have personal knowledge of units that once rented long term now being used as short-term rentals.
Chapin said he gets messages “all the time” from a national short-term rental firm, adding that other homes in his neighborhood that were either owner-occupied or rented long-term have been sold as short-term rentals, or are now being used as such by the current owners.
Coggin said it’s a matter of economics. Coggin acknowledged that he short-term rents his small condo when he’s out of town or during holidays.
“It’s been a great source of income,” Coggin said. And that income can be alluring. Coggin noted his own place would long-term rent for roughly $24,000 per year. Using it only for short-term rentals could net in the neighborhood of $60,000 per year, he added.
“There’s no doubt (short-term) rentals have taken away long-term rentals,” Mason said, adding that she’d like the town to beef up its enforcement of parking and other restrictions, and move more quickly to revoke owners’ registrations.
“We need to figure that out and figure that out quickly,” she said.
Coggin said he hopes the study could guide the town to find a way to achieve rough parity between short-term and long-term rental income.
“Let’s get the study done, then go after (the issue) tooth and nail,” Foley said.
2,150: All short-term rentals registered in Vail.
14%: Portion of Vail’s nonresort housing stock now used for short-term rentals.
$150: Current cost of a one-year short-term rental registration.
$2 million: Approximate 2020 lodging tax collected from short-term rentals.
Source: Town of Vail