Feb 1, 2023
Two weeks before the Summit Board of County Commissioners is set to take a final vote on legislation that will overhaul the short-term rental licensing process, officials are continuing to make adjustments to the policy.
The most significant changes supported by commissioners during a Jan. 31 meeting had to do with booking caps for properties — an amendment first discussed during commissioners’ Jan. 24 meeting in which they held a first reading and vote on the ordinance. During that meeting, commissioners voted to change a 135-night limit to one that limits short-term rentals to 26 separate bookings per year.
During the Jan. 31 meeting, commissioners directed staff to increase the ordinance’s booking limit to 30 amid concerns that 26 did not mirror the original intention of their policy. Commissioners said they hope the booking cap will achieve the same goal of a 135-night limit, which they said is to reduce disruption to short-term rental neighbors.
“The rationale is that that gives some flexibility for the (short-term rental) owner while also sort of mitigating some of those impacts for short-term rentals,” said Senior Planner Jessica Poetter.
The booking cap, initially proposed by Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence, is modeled after a cap in Palm Springs, California, Lawrence said. A booking cap of 26 was estimated to have generated anywhere between 104 and 182 nightly stays per year for a property depending on the length of each booking, according to Potter.
“We made this switch from days to bookings for a number of reasons, but partly in response to the community from whom we heard that nights was not practical,” said Commissioner Tamara Pogue. “While I don’t think Palm Springs is necessarily exactly the same as Summit County, it is a data point that we can look to to help us figure out where we should land on in terms of the number of bookings.
“I suspect 26 is a little bit too low if we go back to a conversion of our original goal of 135 nights,” Pogue continued.
Another key change made by commissioners at county staff member’s recommendation was to add those booking caps to short-term rental properties that are set to be exempt from the caps on licenses.
As the policy currently stands, a limit of no more than 5% to 18% of certain county areas can hold short-term rental licenses. Commissioners had carved out an exception for certain residents of the county’s workforce and retirees, allowing them to hold licenses regardless of the caps.
But as of the Jan. 31 meeting, the ordinance will now stipulate that even those exempted residents will see a limit of 30 bookings.
Other policy changes included clarifying that friends or family members who stay in a short-term rental for no charge will not be included in the booking limit. It also clarifies that licenses can only be transferred between “parents and children, spouses or domestic partners, siblings, or grandparents and grandchildren.”
Discussion also emerged around the past removal of Type III licenses — which represented a small minority of short-term rental licenses — in favor of only offering Type I and II licenses, which represent the majority of rentals. Type III licenses had commonly been used for larger properties in neighborhood zones that were further from homes and deemed conducive to a higher-level of short-term use.
That license option was removed in November as a way to streamline the licensing process and reduce its bureaucracy, according to county staff members. Commissioners Lawrence and Josh Blanchard said they liked the flexibility Type III licenses provided for specific properties and voiced support for adding a new license option at some point in the future.
“I still think that there is a market for that, I still think that there’s an opportunity,” Lawrence said.
“The value that I see for a Type III license is that it allows for more intense use,” Blanchard said.
County staff members recommended against adding language around a new license to the ordinance to avoid complicating the policy before it is set for a second reading and final vote on Feb. 15.
Pogue agreed and said that discussion could happen later in the year, possibly during the first annual review of the ordinance which could be near the end of this year or earlier. She added: “At some point we may need to contemplate a different type of license.”