Eagle County commissioners: Should Eagle County license short-term rentals? | VailDaily.com

Eagle County commissioners: Should Eagle County license short-term rentals?

Jeanne McQueeney, Matt Scherr and Kathy Chandler-Henry
Valley Voices
Jeanne McQueeney, Matt Scherr and Kathy Chandler-Henry serve on the Eagle County Board of Commissioners.
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During the past few months, we have been reviewing options for licensing short-term rentals in unincorporated Eagle County. Short-term rentals are typically residential properties or accessory dwelling units rented for a limited duration. They include listings on popular online services such as Airbnb and VRBO and are often rented out to visitors searching for an alternative to a hotel. The county is considering whether to require these properties to obtain a license and potentially pay administrative and/or impact fees. We want your input. 

Many municipalities in Eagle County already regulate short-term rentals. Vail, Avon, Eagle, Gypsum and Basalt, for example, have policies in place. The county ordinance would only apply to properties located in unincorporated Eagle County. While it’s tough to pin down firm numbers, estimates suggest there are between one to two thousand active short-term rentals in the unincorporated portion of the county, depending on the season. The ordinance would not affect the ability of HOAs, neighborhoods, and other private residential organizations to disallow or create specific policies for rentals. Should Eagle County join municipalities in licensing STRs, and if so, what fees should be associated with a license?

Many Colorado resort communities like ours are addressing the explosion in popularity and ease of access to short-term rentals that have come with advancing technology and a post-pandemic recreation boom. Regulating this situation is frankly a bit of a balancing act.

While STRs may cut into what might otherwise be long-term housing stock for locals, they attract visitors who contribute to our local economy. More visitors create an increased impact on public resources such as law enforcement and medical services, physical infrastructure, and transportation. There is no easy answer, and different communities have taken different approaches to finding (and continually adapting) solutions that make sense for them.

By registering these properties, in addition to ensuring health and safety standards, we’ll have a much better sense of the “who, what, and where” of the short-term rental market. From there we can better assess the costs and benefits of this segment of our visitor population. Our hope is to balance the economic considerations of STRs with the interests of our vibrant and thriving communities. 

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As part of the ordinance, we are considering two potential fee structures with registration. The first would be an administrative fee to cover the costs of the licensing program. The second would be an impact fee to mitigate the impacts of visitors and alleviate workforce and housing issues created by this type of rental. The total potential amount generated from fees is estimated between several hundred thousand to as many as a few million dollars per year. In combination with the lodging tax passed by voters last November, our hope would be to establish a fee that assists locals impacted by the STR market and mitigates visitor impacts. 

We are proud of the county’s aggressive work in providing innovative solutions to the housing crisis affecting local residents. We also appreciate the importance of our guests and the ability of owners to use their properties in any way that also respects the rights of neighbors.

Over the next few weeks, before we sit down to consider drafting an ordinance, we want to hear from you. We have created a Frequently Asked Question webpage and a feedback form. Share your thoughts with us! Constituents may also provide public comment at any Eagle County Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesdays at 10 a.m. in the Eagle County Building or virtually. We are also available for one-on-one discussions during our open office hours, which are posted to the events calendar on the homepage of the county website. 

Thank you in advance for your time and thoughtful input!

Jeanne McQueeney, Matt Scherr and Kathy Chandler-Henry serve on the Eagle County Board of Commissioners.

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