Buckhorn Ranch HOA passes STR policy that includes big fines

Establishes new fine schedule

[  By Kendra Walker  ]

The Buckhorn Ranch Homeowners Association (HOA) board of directors earlier this month passed an amended policy on short-term rental (STR) rules and regulations fine schedule. The key points of the policy are to ensure that each STR has a local contact available should any issues arise, establish rules and regulations for neighborhood safety, and initiate fines when owners are in violation of the STR policy. 

“This was not a covenant vote, just a policy voted on by the board,” said board member Sean Patrick. “We’re not restricting STRs, we’re just adding rules and a fine schedule. It passed and we’re pretty stoked about it.” The board voted 5-2 in favor of passing the policy.

Patrick explained that the policy originated from the Buckhorn Ranch neighborhood experiencing disturbances from STR guests, including late-night parties and cars speeding through neighborhood streets.

“We’ve had a lot of issues with STRs over the past year, mostly people disrespecting the neighborhood, speeding down the road, late night parties,” said Patrick. “All we’re really trying to do is get homeowners who are renting out their houses short-term to be good stewards of the neighborhood. Now we have a mechanism to do so.”

Patrick estimates Buckhorn Ranch currently has less than 10 STRs. “But I expect that number to quickly grow over the next five to 10 years. Talking to builders and people building homes, they are building with STRs in mind, so we are preparing for the future,” he said.

The policy requires that each STR owner provides to the HOA written notification of the dates of occupancy prior to each check-in, the number of guests, a local contact who can respond to issues and written acknowledgment by the owner that all adult guests have been provided a copy of the policy. 

The policy’s rules and regulations require that guests adhere to the neighborhood’s speed limits, quiet hours between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m., Gunnison County fire restrictions, lighting, and trash and recycling. The number of guests should be reasonable given the size of the residence and number of bedrooms, and vehicles shall be kept in driveways and not left on the roads or cul-de-sacs.

The fine schedule establishes a $500 fine for the first violation, to increase in increments of $500 for each violation. For violations related to noise, quiet hours or fireworks, the first violation is $1,000, to increase in increments of $1,000 for each violation.

Since the beginning of the year, the board has been working on the draft policy and solicited feedback from homeowners throughout the process. Patrick noted that last week’s HOA board meeting was attended by about 20-30 people, and the board didn’t receive any real opposition to the policy during the meeting. “People who live here in Buckhorn are very supportive of what we’re doing with the policy changes,” he said.

However, the HOA board had received multiple lawsuit threats over the past several months from homeowners who did not want any restrictions or limits put on STRs. “We’ve heard a lot of loud and angry voices,” said Patrick. “Mostly from second homeowners or people who haven’t built yet.”

After hearing feedback from homeowners, the board worked to refine the policy to a fine schedule. “We’re saying, yes, you can still rent your houses but there are rules, you need to do your best to make sure it’s not a disruption to the neighborhood. We’re trying to do what’s best for the community,” said Patrick.

Since the board’s vote, Patrick said they have not received any more lawsuit threats. “Because we did boil it down to no restrictions whatsoever and just a fine schedule, I think that’s why a lot of people calmed down,” he said.

Patrick said that once the neighborhood is more fully built out, the board may consider adopting covenant changes that regulate STRs, which would require a vote by homeowners. “The problem with the neighborhood right now is the majority of the lots are undeveloped,” he said. “It’s hard to get participation from people who don’t live here. If there’s that demand from the community in the future, we would look at covenant changes.”

The board also voted to adopt the use of Inside HOA, a new locally based software company that helps with HOA and STR management. “They are going to launch with us, and the goal is to go out to other HOAs in Crested Butte,” said Patrick. The software allows for everyone in the neighborhood to communicate goings-on and issues with each other, search for all HOA documents and covenants and contact the board.

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