Vail Town Council gives first approval to short-term rental regulation changes
How they voted
The ordinance passed on first reading by a 6-1 vote with council member Greg Moffet opposed.
The ordinance is scheduled for second and final reading on Tuesday, Nov. 20, but council members are likely to delay the second reading until the meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 4.
VAIL — An effort to understand Vail’s short-term rental business has become more far-reaching and will affect much of the town’s lodging business.
The Vail Town Council on Tuesday, Nov. 6, passed on first reading an ordinance making significant changes to the town’s 2017 short-term rental regulations. More changes are coming before the ordinance’s second reading, likely to come on Tuesday, Dec. 4.
The biggest change to the current regulations is registering virtually all short-term rentals, including condo buildings and condo buildings that have a front desk, often called “condo-tels.”
The first draft of changes to the regulations called for registering all units, at a price of $150 each. That brought quick backlash from lodging managers in town.
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At the Nov. 6 meeting, Kim Rediker, of The Antlers Lodge, told council members that the registration fees alone could cost the business as much as $10,000. That would be a significant hit to the property’s budget for the coming year, she said.
Bart Cuomo, of Vail Realty, also questioned the fees. Cuomo said the ordinance as proposed lacked several key definitions important to the industry, including specifying the difference between a “manager” and a “booking agent.”
Dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, Cuomo noted that “this is what a manager looks like.”
Cuomo also noted that property managers, particularly condo-tels, “are being asked to pay for problems we didn’t create.”
Todd Mossa, general manager of The Wren condominiums, said the regulations as proposed need more work, adding that he and other managers found out only recently that a regulation was in the works.
Council member Greg Moffet cautioned fellow council members about “legislating on the fly” in making changes to the existing regulations and encouraged creating a task force to work out a comprehensive set of new rules. But other council members said they’re confident the town can get new regulations in place without the time and expense of essentially starting over.
Jen Mason said she believes the new regulations are “90 percent there” in terms of being ready.
‘Quality of life’
Council member Travis Coggin acknowledged that the regulations are complex. But, he added, “starting over isn’t going to change that.”
Coggin added that the original intent of the regulations was to understand how many units are operating outside professional management channels.
The intent was also to encourage unit owners to hire professional managers to handle problems that might crop up during visits.
“This came up over quality of life” for both guests and residents, Mayor Dave Chapin said, adding that Vail’s guest experience is the top priority of any lodging regulations.
The council discussion resulted in an ordinance that drops registration fees for at least the first year.
For Moffet, the issues with the lodging regulations run deeper. Referring to an email he’d received from a group of lodging managers, Moffet said he’d like to resolve questions about the regulations beyond fees.
Council members ultimately passed the ordinance by a 6-1 vote, with Moffet as the sole “no” vote.
Town officials and lodging representatives are expected to have more discussions about the ordinance before its second and final reading. That action is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 20, but will almost certainly be delayed to the Tuesday, Dec. 4, meeting.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 970-748-2930.
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It’s fitting that Eagle County is proceeding through its reopening phases of COVID-19 in an analogy to ski run difficulties — green to blue to black. Monday marks the transition from the green beginner phase to the blue intermediate phase.