New report details impacts of online vacation rentals
July 20, 2015
A study commissioned by the Colorado Association of Ski Towns has produced a fount of new information about the phenomenon of vacation home rentals (VHRs) by such Internet-based companies as VRBO, Airbnb and Flipkey and the issues of regulation, taxing and neighborhood impacts.
The study focuses on 10 CAST members including Jackson, Wyo., and Park City, Utah, but also brought in the experience of other resort communities around the country as well as metropolitan areas: New York City, San Francisco, and Portland.
"While revenue collection still remains an issue, CAST's focus has shifted to include the impacts that VHR's are having on our communities in terms of loss of long-term rental housing, community character, zoning, safety, parking, noise, etc.," explains Joyce Burford, executive director of CAST. "The VHR industry is growing so rapidly there's a much bigger picture that is changing daily and is a moving target."
The study was conducted by Melanie Rees of Rees Consulting, Wendy Sullivan of WSW Associates, and Chris Cares of RRC Associates. Melanie Rees says the trend among jurisdictions is rather than to try and prohibit short-term rentals in residential zones, to instead allow them but regulate them by using nuisance ordinances to regulate parking, noise from parties, and trash removal.
In the communities that participated in the survey, vacation home rentals are responsible for a low of 1 percent of housing units in Durango to 52 percent of units in Mt. Crested Butte.
In a poll of elected officials and town staff in the 10 participating CAST communities, the loss of long-term rental housing was cited as the top community concern, followed closely by concerns about collection of lodging/sales taxes, community character, and neighborhood change. The report is broken out into chapters organized around major themes that emerged in the research — tracking, regulations, taxing, etc. — and at the end of each chapter there is a "Best Practices" section that communities wanting to address particular issues should consider. Each practice will likely require tailoring to meet unique community circumstances. For example, the study finds an early and aggressive approach by Breckenridge to get on top of the issue, and the municipality believes it has succeeded in getting 99 percent of rentals to be licensed.
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But Estes Park does something no others do in that it tracks home rentals across the broader area called the Estes Park Valley. In contrast, many municipalities operate independently from their respective counties — perhaps duplicating efforts.
There is a fee for the 52-page report and those interested in receiving it should contact Joyce Burford at email@example.com.
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