Short Term Rentals: Why They Matter

Short Term Rental Ordinance

This is long, but there is a Call to Action at the bottom. If you don't have time to read this, please skim it and read the last part. If it's important to you, do something!

At the City Council meeting this week, the Council approved a measure that requires owners of Short Term rentals to register with the City and to pay the required sales tax and lodging tax. There are some other good points to this Ordinance. Owners of these rentals must have a local contact person who can be contacted in the case of issues, such as loud guests or poor snow removal. Short term rentals must have an inspection by the fire department that will help assure that these homes are safe. These are all good things. But...

As I mentioned at the April 19th City Council meeting and another resident discussed at the meeting on May 3, there is no line in our current Zoning code that covers Short Term Rentals. There is no doubt in my mind that Short Term Rentals are a business ad should follow all the requirements of Commercial Uses. Our code does require that businesses that want to operate in a Residential area must go through an approval process. Commercial Lodging is specifically NOT PERMITTED in any residential area. Bed and Breakfasts and Home Businesses require approval before they are allowed to operate. Often these approval processes include inviting those who live within a specific radius of the proposed business to come to Planning Commission and give their thoughts about how this proposed business will influence their quality of life, parking, property values, etc. The Planning Commission then interprets the Code and can allow or disallow any CONDITIONAL use.

Since there is no specific mention of Short Term Rentals in our Code, it is hard to control the number, location, density, etc. of Short Term Rentals. The Planning Commission has to follow the Zoning code as written, and currently there is no mention of Short Term Rentals.

City Council says that there is another round of discussions coming up that will deal with the Short Term Rental issue. I think that it is on the back burner. How many new homes will be turned into Short Term Rentals before Council makes this a priority? According to the Salida Finance Director, there are about 70 Short Term Rentals that are currently paying the required taxes and lodging fees. She estimates that there are more then 30 other homes that are flying under the radar, and that there could be many more than that. Some of you have several on your block.

Why does this matter? What is wrong with having 500 short term rentals in town? Here is my opinion in two bullet points.

1) Short term rentals degrade the small town community. How many times have you run next door to borrow a cup of sugar? Do you know your neighbors? Isn't this part of why you live in a small town? If there are strangers coming and going next door, you cannot build the social network that makes small town living special. If you are surrounded by short term rentals, you may have to go a block to find a neighbor who knows your name.

2) Short term rentals increase the cost of housing in Salida. Scarcity drives up the price of anything. For every house that is removed from the pool of homes that are available to live in year round, both the price of rent and the price of homes on the market goes up. There is a tremendous scarcity of homes on the market for sale right now (ask any realtor) and the price keeps going up.

When you add (1) and (2) together, it spells bad news.

HERE'S THE CALL TO ACTION

If you agree (or disagree) with me and want Council to make this issue a priority, please do one or more of the following:

Call or email your City Council person. Don't know how? Go here: http://cityofsalida.com/city-government/elected-officials/

If you don't know who your representative is, go here to see which Ward you live in: http://cityofsalida.com/_site/wp-content/uploads/City-Council-Wards-June-2013.pdf

Speaking up at Council can be tough for some people, but I think it is the best way to let Council know how you feel. I spoke up at a meeting a couple of weeks ago and I was approached by no fewer than 10 people who thanked me for speaking up. Unlike emails and phone calls, if you speak at Council it is public and recorded and broadcast. This can be scary, but more people hear what you have to say and it becomes part of the record. If you and 5 friends all speak up at a meeting, you will be HEARD.

If you have had negative experiences with Short Term Rentals (noise, parking, lack of snow removal, etc.) tell your Council person.

If you think that Short Term Rentals should go through the same approval process as other businesses located in Residential Areas, let your Council representatives know.

If you think that Council should put a moratorium on new Short Term Rentals until the Code can be amended, let them know.

Just to be clear, I think that it would be tremendously unfair to revoke the rights of those who are currently operating Short Term Rentals. They have invested a lot of time and money in furnishing and advertising their homes. BUT I think that EVERY NEW Short Term Rental should go through a Planning Commission hearing, and I think that the City Council should put a moratorium on new Short Term Rentals until this topic can be discussed and the Code amended.

Thanks for listening. I have thick skin, so if you disagree, no problem. Be part of the conversation. Have a lovely day.

Comments

    There may be other comments on this topic on our Facebook page.

  • Paige:

    Thanks for the write up. For the record, when I spoke to City Council about this issue on May 3, I gave them a list of bullet that I think they could use to address the problems you have outlined above. First I asked them to institute a moratorium until new regs were created then I suggested that:

    Ideas for regulations 1. All short term rentals that were paying lodging tax before the moratorium are grandfathered in. 2. Short term vacation rentals shall be governed by the land use code. 3. STVR are permitted in C-1, C-2, RMU and I. 4. STVR are allowed under Administrative Review in R-1, R-2, R-3, and R-4 Zones 5. STVR shall not be closer than 175 feet from any other STVR. 6. STVR are allowed in an ADU, but only one building on a lot shall be allowed to STVR. 7. STVR are only allowed one per lot. 8. The name on the license must be the same as the name on the deed for the property, and that name must be a person, not a trust or a company. 9. The license is personal to the owner of the property and shall not transfer to a new owner. 10. Violations are governed by Section 1-4-20.

  • Agree with Paige and Billtoo. Out of town but writing to City Council (Rogers and Brown-Kovacic now). Small town character will be lost without holistic review of Code and adequate enforcement. Old/New investors/STVR owners be on notice: people who abide by the Code and pay their way are fine, but not at the expense of this community.

  • What again is the plan regarding short term rentals of tiny homes in the development planned on Highway 50?

  • The plan as I understand it, is to build a development of "tiny homes" in between the Sewage Treatment Plant and the Stockyards, which possibly will eventually turn into a run down trailer park type of environment, while enriching the developers return on investment, at the expense of the City of Salida's tap fees, and the citizens that live there, all in the name of "Affordable Workforce Housing".

    The City seems to be on board with it, Joe Deluca says it's a win win, must be good for all !

    The Emperor is having a new set of clothes made just for this occasion I'm told.

  • There are apartments above the shops downtown which aren't being utilized. Perhaps incentive can be given to landlords to upgrade them to livable standards. Also, employers might want to provide housing options for their employees. These businesses may experience better retention and, all told, cheaper labor. I've seen where ethnic restaurants (Chinese, Mexican) keep a house on the side for employees and take the low rent out of their checks.

  • I keep hearing people say that the tiny homes community is getting a break on tap fees. My understanding is that if they ever want to sell the units individually then they will have to pay for individual taps at about $13k per home. If they plan to keep them under one owner, which is the plan that has been publicly discussed, then code allows multiple dwellings to use one commercial tap, which must be sized to accommodate that number of dwellings. Think of an apartment building. One owner owns the whole thing and rents out portions of that apartment building. There is no need to have a tap for each apartment and the building can be served by one commercial tap. The water bill is paid by the apartment owner each month. This is also the model for a trailer park. One entity owns the park and rents out spaces. The tiny home community fits this apartment model.

  • Are there restrictions on short term rentals being placed on the Tiny Housing development?

  • Paige,

    Not sure about the "eventual" sale of these units, It seems hard to believe that one single person would purchase one single unit, and then bring in the backhoe's to put in another tap, adding $13K to the price of something (not counting dirt work, plumber, landscape and pavement restoration etc.) worth perhaps $15K?

    How would the land ownership be dealt with ? "Space Rental"? The common grounds maintenance ? While anything is possible, it seems improbable for it to ever happen, and if it did, who'd actually buy a tiny home (600sf) for $50K+ ?

    That's $83.00 sf without land, in what amounts to a mobile home park for something not even as large as a mobile home. It's certainly not affordable to develop and rent for $750+, if this were the case, and if it's not affordable to develop, then it's not affordable, or attractive to a buyer, in MY opinion.

    I'm betting that this "development" as it were, would be fiscally unworkable should the concessions they are asking for not be granted, which causes me to wonder about it's sustainability. Brings about a "Snatch, Grab and flee" scenario in my mind, but then again, that's just me.

    I'm sure Joe Deluca has "all" the answers, but the more this project moves forward, the more inconvenient questions arise.

  • As I said, the plan that has been put forth says the tiny homes will be held under one owner. The whole point of my post was to say that if multiple living units are held by one owner then code says a commercial tap is okay. I was responding to you comment that says "at the expense of the City of Salida's tap fees". Salida will collect commercial tap fees for this development. It seems that your post was insinuating that the developers are getting a sweetheart deal on tap fees, which doesn't seem accurate in my opinion.

  • I am going to bow out of the conversation regarding the tiny homes project.

  • I wasn't so much harping on the tap fees being a sweetheart deal, as the entire project being a sweetheart deal, and more importantly of questionable "value" to the community.

    Perhaps I'm just an old curmudgeon resistant to change, sorry to tick you off.

  • Just came across this http://bit.ly/1segO8J For what it's worth.

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