Blue River initiates discussion about short-term rentals

The town hall and municipal court building is pictured on Wednesday, December 1 in Blue River.
Lindsey Toomer / Daily News Summit

The Town of Blue River has watched the short-term rental conversations across Summit County cautiously, but the town is not as concerned as others.

In its working session on Tuesday, November 30, Blue River’s board of directors discussed the current status of the city’s short-term rental permit relative to other cities and the type of action it is taking. could take, if any.

Mayor Toby Babich, who also owns a vacation rental company and is president of the Local Vacation Rental Management Association, said the purpose of the working session was to determine whether immediate action is needed or whether the city should continue to monitor the situation.

“I think we’re mostly aligned in that we want to be very strategic and deliberate in our approach to vacation rentals and really not base our actions on what neighboring communities are doing, but base our actions on what is the better for the town of Blue River. “Babich said at the meeting.” We have a very different dynamic than our neighbors. We don’t really have the same type of problems in terms of labor housing, labor shortage. – of work or population size, so our solutions must truly reflect our uniqueness and our uniqueness of population.

Babich said the town of about 880 residents was initially concerned about “panic permit buying” with caps and moratoria implemented in Breckenridge and Summit County, but the town has not seen much of it.

City Manager Michelle Eddy wrote a report with the city’s latest short-term rental data. Eddy said as of Nov. 30, the city has issued 165 permits in 2021. Of the 761 housing units in the city, 350 are occupied full-time and about 20% have short-term rental permits.

Eddy also said 7% of the licenses are considered local, with a mailing address somewhere in the county. She said these licenses are usually for homeowners who rent a room in their home or rent out their home when they are away.

Regarding new construction, Eddy said there have been 43 new projects in the city since 2016, of which 19% have been granted short-term rental permits. In 2021, Blue River recorded 57 home sales, 42% of which resulted in an application for a short-term rental license.

Although the city has not seen much of an increase in permit applications since neighboring municipalities began discussing their regulations, Eddy said there had been more calls from people asking if the city was subject to county license restrictions.

Eddy also said that of the 1,694 police calls the city received regarding short-term rentals in 2021, only 23 resulted in code violations.

Administrator Ted Pilling said he thought it would be wise for the city to “err on the side of caution,” potentially considering a moratorium as it determines the best course of action and monitors regulatory developments in the region. other municipalities.

“If we want Blue River to be the residential community of choice in Summit County, maybe we could consider a moratorium for a while,” Pilling said.

Most of the other administrators were not in favor of a moratorium, saying the city’s situation was not serious. They stressed, however, that they didn’t want to get to where Breckenridge is at.

Administrator Dan Cleary has said he would like the city to indicate what the desirable number of short-term rentals would be. He said that even though the board feels good at 20%, they wouldn’t want to get to the point where all the other homes are short-term rentals.

“I don’t want to end up in a position where we then have to go back to what is a desirable number,” Cleary said.

Babich agreed, saying he thinks it would be beneficial to look at a cost-benefit analysis of the time and money that short-term rentals cost the city versus how much they make. He said he thinks it can help the city work out an appropriate number of short-term rentals he would like to see without pulling a random number out of the air.

Administrator Ken Robertson has asked if the city has the right to tell people what they can and cannot do with their private property, and city attorney Bob Widner has said he doesn’t there was no inherent right for a landlord to operate a short term rental.

“Your ownership of your property is subject to reasonable government regulation to protect the health, safety and well-being of the community,” Widner said. “If there is harm or perceived harm associated with activity on your property, the government can regulate it. … A community can outright ban all short-term rentals if it finds that short-term rentals provide or present some kind of harm to the community.

About Michael B. Billingsley

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