Vail short-term rental regulations a balancing act

Council members hold varying opinions about what new regulations should and shouldn’t cover

The Vail Town Council is likely to soon see a draft of new short term rental regulation.
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There are almost as many opinions about regulating Vail’s short-term rental market as there are units available.

After months of study and four presentations on the topic, town of Vail staff members are ready to draft a new set of regulations regarding short-term rentals. That legislation will be a careful balancing act.

The desire to update the town’s short term rental regulations — first adopted in 2017 — has been bubbling for some time. Vail Town Council members favor tight regulations, while others take a more liberal view of the current market. Those opinions were on display during that board’s April 5 meeting.

Mayor Kim Langmaid has long been an advocate for tightly regulating short-term rentals, often citing concerns about the negative affects those rentals are having in the town’s residential neighborhoods. Langmaid also believes increased fees can help bolster the town’s housing fund.

Council member Travis Coggin worries about “unintended consequences” from regulation. Increasing fees could lead to either pulling units off the market or using them more often.

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“If you increase my (registration and compliance) cost by 20%, I’m probably going to increase usage to cover my costs,” Coggin said.

Council member Pete Seibert wondered if the new regulations might include a provision based on the number of rental nights per year. Exceeding that threshold might move a property from residential to commercial. That could have property tax consequences.

Council member Jonathan Staufer suggested that renting a unit for more than 30 days per year should move a unit into the commercial tax category.

Council member Kevin Foley has more than once mentioned the need for the town’s registration system to cover its costs. That doesn’t happen now. Foley also advocated more attention to complaints about renters in a unit.

There also have been council comments regarding potentially intruding on unit owners’ property rights, as well as whether the town should limit the number of short-term rentals in a condo or townhome complex, or set a town limit on the number of registrations allowed.

After lengthy reports at four meetings so far this year, Town Attorney Matt Mire suggested bringing a draft ordinance to the council.

Langmaid agreed.

“We need something that we can pick apart and find at least four votes (to approve),” she said.

What’s likely?

As Vail staff work on new short term rental regulations, here are some items likely to make it into a new ordinance:

Raising the annual license fees.

Imposing a per-bedroom fee on top of those licenses.

Tightened requirements for insurance.

Updated fire inspection requirements.

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