Mt. CB updates short-term rental license regulations

STR moratorium still under discussion

By Kendra Walker

The Mt. Crested Butte town council is making progress on updating the town’s current short-term rental (STR) licensing program to address some of the impacts that STRs have on adjacent properties, public services, public health and safety. The council hopes that this will ultimately improve the town staff’s efficiency and effectiveness in enforcing STRs, as well as improve the quality of life of community members who are affected by neighboring STRs. 

As far as an STR moratorium, which all summer has been debated by the council with ample public feedback (both for and against), the council will officially vote on whether or not to put a moratorium in place during their next meeting on August 17. 

However, based on council discussion during their August 3 meeting, a blanket moratorium is unlikely. Some members of the council have expressed interest in designating a moratorium or cap on STRs in certain areas of town and exempting others, such as the Downtown Development Authority zone or other condominium complexes, but town staff has made it clear they don’t have capacity at this time to work on determining the boundaries of a moratorium. 

“There’s been a panic recently where suddenly we got a bunch of new licenses because of discussions of the moratorium,” said town manager Isa Reeb. “Most have expressed to us that they’re only doing it in case they have to short-term rent. Most people are planning to not actually use the license. We received 29 phone calls in two weeks about this as well. There’s been a major influx of staff time devoted to fear essentially.”

“We discussed a moratorium as a vehicle to hit the pause button so we don’t get 30 new applications coming in, to give us a calm period of time to study these things appropriately and decide our rules,” said council member Roman Kolodziej.  

“The work to figure out where the moratorium should go is likely the same or more work than to figure out how many to cap,” explained Reeb. “Where would it apply and who would it apply to in all those categories seems a little overwhelming for staff.”

“I feel like we’ve been making a lot of progress without doing a moratorium,” said mayor Janet Farmer, referencing several measures made during that meeting, including allowing the Grand Lodge to temporarily long-term rent to local employees, initiating a Housing Matters rental program with the Gunnison Valley Regional Housing Authority, and making updates to STR regulations. 

“But why we got 30 new licenses is because it’s hanging out there,” said council member Michael Bacani. 

“We need to make a yes/no decision,” agreed Farmer. “…vote on a blanket moratorium so people have some idea that’s something we’re not going to consider.”

“It sounds like that’s what we want to do, just to put a rest to the conversation,” said Reeb. The council will vote on a moratorium at the August 17 meeting. 

License Fees

The council agreed to increase the cost of the STR license fees, in order to cover the necessary administrative costs and time to regulate and inspect short-term rentals. The fee increase, effective immediately, will also allow the town to hire a full-time position to run the program, to take the pressure off the current staff members managing STR licenses. 

The initial license fee for each STR unit is now $350, and the annual renewal fee for each unit is $300. Previously, the fee was $200 for all licenses. There is also a $75 fee for any additional inspection necessary to ensure a unit meets the license requirements.

“The plan is to get the job description out later this week and we will hire for that immediately,” said Reeb. “As soon as they can come on they’ll be our full-time STR person and we’ll be reconfiguring other people’s roles and responsibilities. From there we’ll test that for six to eight months and make sure that’s sufficient.”

The fee increase to cover all STR administrative costs including a full-time staff member was based on 600 renewal applications and 50 brand new STR applications each year. 

STR regulations

The town council also approved the first reading of an ordinance that will amend the town’s STR regulations. If an owner is non-compliant, they will be subject to fines, license suspension or revocation. 

Among STR requirements, the property owner must have the following: a license and pay the license fee; a sales tax and business and occupational license tax; proof of ownership/right to possession; homeowner association approval; self-compliance affidavit; parking plan; bedroom count; a local representative located within a 45-minute drive of the property; complete a Good Neighbor Policy form; personal property declaration form; initial inspection and period life-safety inspections; and posting of documents on any advertisement of the property, including the STR license number, maximum pillow count, approved parking plan and local representative contact information. The owner’s name, STR address and local representative contact will also be posted on the town’s website. 

If an STR is found in violation of any of the above requirements, the town may issue fines, suspend, revoke or refuse to renew the license. This includes a fine of $200 for an online posting missing required items in the listing, $1,000 per day for the short-term rental of a property without a license, and for violation of any other provision of the code the owner is subject to a fine amount determined by the municipal court judge, of no more than $2,650.

The second reading of the ordinance will take place at the next town council meeting on August 17, for council’s final approval.

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