Grassroots Carbondale Group: Short-Term Rentals Limit Housing for Long-Term Residents | News
This is a phenomenon that is not unique to the Roaring Fork Valley – with companies such as Airbnb and VRBO having established themselves in communities around the world over the past decade, many towns feeling the pressure to resolve issues with short term rentals, commonly referred to as STRs in the industry. Weeks after Aspen City Council passed a six-month moratorium on vacation rental and residential development permits, Carbondale administrators are expected to discuss it in a public works meeting on December 21 . But it was a local effort that really pushed the issue to the forefront.
While Carbondale officials have recognized that unfettered short-term rentals must be curtailed, the problem was recently highlighted by a newly formed advocacy group, Community First Carbondale (CFC).
The CFC is the brainchild of three full-time Carbondale residents: Kevin Rayes, Shirley Powers and Ali O’Neal. Rayes works as a city planner for the city of Aspen and previously worked in planning for Colorado Springs. His advocacy work with CFCs is unrelated to his position in the town of Aspen. Yet Rayes has learned from experience that “planning is really political.”
Initially, CFC intended to ask for enough signatures to get an initiative on the ballot through the people – however, once the group warned the city, the group was told this might not. not be necessary.
Carbondale Mayor Dan Richardson said he conveyed to Rayes: âIn my opinion, using a ballot initiative to create public policy is not constructive, unless it is an absolute last resort. The mayor encouraged Rayes and CFC to work with the administrators to try to do something. “Considering that I only learned of their initiative a few weeks ago and our board has been willing – and more recently keen – to resolve the issue, I think we are very far from a scenario. of last resort, âRichardson added.
âWe don’t plan on pushing this to a vote anymore, but instead hope to work with the board to get something approved,â Rayes said.
The group drafted a memo which they handed to the city before the December 21 working session. In part, the memo reads, “Homeowners and landlords who previously rented to long-term premises are now incentivized to use a residential property as an STR or sell to a business that will do the same.”
âWe each have friends or family members who have been kicked out of town due to the lack of housing options available in the area,â the note further states, âand we believe the STRs and MTRs [medium-term rentals] are a contributing factor.
The CFC defines an MTR as “property or accommodation that is rented for a period of 30 to 90 consecutive days”. In Carbondale, STRs are taxed the same as hotels for overnight stays of 30 days or less – any stay beyond 30 days is exempt. Often, according to Rayes, people choose to extend their stay to 30 days to avoid paying the STR tax.
CFC recognizes a distinction between hotels (and other overnight accommodation) and DOS. While a hotel room was originally intended for short-term stays, STR and MTR units are located in homes zoned as permanent residences and arguably do away with living space for a long-term resident. âWhen someone stays in a hotel, they don’t take someone else’s accommodation,â Rayes explained.
In its proposal, SWC recognizes that STRs and MTRs can provide additional income to full-time residents. Therefore, the coalition is proposing an authorization system for STRs and MTRs. With the intention of preventing outside investors from gobbling up the housing market, the CFC proposes that only owners who occupy full-time housing be granted an STR permit. If a house is not occupied by a full-time resident, the owner will not obtain an STR permit. MTRs would be “entitled by right” for full-time owner-occupants to rent without having to obtain a permit, while a non-occupant owner would be required to obtain a permit to lease space as a MTR.
How would the city pay for the enforcement of these regulations? The CFC proposes that a 10% municipal tax be imposed on authorized STRs and MTRs – again specifying that hotels would be exempt. A proposed tax increase, in accordance with the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR), would ultimately be subject to voter approval.
âWe looked at it quite extensively a few years ago,â said Richardson, âbut at that time it was more difficult to analyze the pros and cons and unoccupied RTSs didn’t appear to be. as widespread as they seem to be now.
Currently, Airbnb and VRBO pay a lump sum of the taxes they collect to the town of Carbondale; therefore, the city does not have recent data regarding the number of STR units.
Those interested in learning more about CFCs can visit the coalition’s website at: www.communityfirstcarbondale.org
âFor us, housing is not a commodity; housing is more of a human right, âconcluded Rayes.