County mulls new fees, regulations for short-term rentals |

County mulls new fees, regulations for short-term rentals

Short-term rentals continue to be a topic of hot debate in Middle Park and on Tuesday Grand County’s Commissioners held a workshop to discuss the potential future of regulations on the popular vacation properties.

Grand County Community Development Director Tom Leatherwood addressed the board of commissioners with a presentation on short-term rental permits, short-term rental figures, regulations, fee schedules and impacts from short-term rentals on government services, the local economy and the workforce. As of late April, there are 850 short-term rentals in unincorporated Grand County, according to statistics provided by Leatherwood. Of those 850 short-term rentals, 525 have obtained operating permits from the county while 325 are considered noncompliant.

Short-term rentals in Grand County, not including those located within the municipalities inside the county, must currently pay a $150 permitting fee to legally operate. The county is considering adding an additional occupancy fee, referred to as a pillow count, of $50 per occupant space. According to county officials, the occupancy count would be based on the total number of occupants a particular short-term rental allows under its online advertisement, with larger short-term rentals that accommodate more individuals paying a higher occupancy fee.

Grand County defines short-term rentals as properties that actively advertise themselves as such. The county tracks short-term rentals through an outside corporation called Bear Cloud Software, which tracks all online listings for short-term rentals. Those are then cross-referenced against the county’s existing permitting system. The software also allows the county to track particulars of an advertised property such as the number of individuals a specific short-term rental can accommodate.

The presentation Tuesday included estimated income derived from short-term rentals to property owners based on projected nightly rental rates and occupancy rates. Based on an estimated nightly rental fee of $270 per night, at an occupancy rate of 80 nights per year, a property owner with a short-term rental would make $21,600 in income on that property per year. Grand County Manager Lee Staab noted that, based on the county’s projected revenue figures, short-term rentals are the single largest business industry in Grand County.

The commissioners discussed the possibility of adding additional regulations on the number of short-term rentals that would be allowed in Grand County, highlighting concerns that commercial entities could purchase large numbers of properties within the county and convert them to short-term rentals. County staff members noted that some communities limit the total number of short-term rentals in a specific area, while others set limits on the number of short-term rentals that can be owned by a specific entity or individual.

The commissioners were hesitant to consider specific regulations that would limit short-term rentals, however, citing the need to respect personal property rights. No action was taken by the county board during the workshop. Discussion on short-term rentals is set to resume May 22.

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