For months, the Board of Pitkin County Commissioners has gone back and forth about how to regulate short-term rentals in unincorporated areas of the county.
Currently, Pitkin County does not have any laws on the books concerning the regulation of short-term rentals and commissioners have struggled to come up with specific ones to implement.
During a BOCC work session Tuesday, Pitkin County Attorney John Ely advised commissioners to identify what was “offensive” about short-term rentals to neighborhoods and to craft meaningful policy that would, at least, attempt to prevent those offenses from occurring.
“A house that is continually rented out short term, so there is a turnover every week or two weeks all year long, presents a different profile of the neighborhood than the profile of the principal owners renting their home out on the short-term basis for a season,” Ely said during Tuesday’s BOCC work session.
While Pitkin County does not currently regulate short-term rentals, the city of Aspen does.
Anyone who rents their home out in Aspen for 30 days or less must have a business license and remit sales and lodging taxes to the city.
“We’re aware of corporations and whatever coming in and buying these homes just for the sole purpose [of making money],” Commissioner Patti Clapper said. “They generate a heck of a lot of income.”
Tuesday, on airbnb.com, a penthouse in Aspen was listed for up to $10,000 a night during the week of Thanksgiving. In accordance with Aspen’s 2.4% sales tax and 2% lodging tax, a one-night stay at the $10,000 penthouse would generate roughly $440 worth of tax revenue to the city’s coffers specifically.
Should the county adopt its own short-term rental regulations and licensing requirements similar to the city of Aspen, they would only apply to properties within unincorporated Pitkin County.
According to a draft of those short-term rental regulations, Pitkin County Manager Jon Peacock, with consultation from the BOCC, would be charged with appointing the county’s “licensing authority,” who would be responsible for processing short-term rental applications and issuing licenses.
The BOCC was in agreement that it did not want large entities buying homes in Pitkin County only to convert them into unregulated, short-term rentals. At the same time, commissioners did not want the forthcoming regulations to be so onerous that they would make it difficult for locals to rent out their homes as short-term rentals every so often.
“I think we have to be careful … about personal property rights and letting people do what they have to do, who live here — not talking about investors from out of town but the people who live here,” Commissioner Francie Jacober said. “I believe that we need some restrictions on short-term rentals and I definitely don’t like the situation when people buy what should be a neighborhood house and then turn it into a turnover rental place.”
Commissioner Kelly McNicholas Kury proposed conducting a first reading of the county’s forthcoming short-term rental regulations in “two to four weeks” and a second reading by the end of 2021. Kury wanted the county’s short-term rental licensing program to be up and running by March 1 of next year, which some board members believed might be too soon. However, commissioners wanted to conduct a first reading soon in order to take public comment.
During Tuesday’s work session, no specific date was set for a first reading of the county’s forthcoming short-term rental regulations. Instead, the BOCC directed staff to bring back an ordinance during a regular Wednesday meeting “sooner than later.”
“There is a lot you can do to regulate short-term rentals ... There is some really heavy handedness that can go on about short-term rentals,” Kury said. “I’m just hoping we can find some agreement … and move this forward.”