Grand County updates some STR regulations
Grand County commissioners have tweaked some of the county’s regulations to better address short-term rentals with bigger plans on the horizon.
The revisions approved by county commissioners last week mostly clarify language regarding short-term rentals. With the change, the county’s code makes it clear that renewal of STR permits is discretionary and may be denied based on compliance violations, complaints and other issues.
The update also requires an active permit number be displayed on all rental advertisements and booking platforms, and posted inside the rental unit.
Grand County Planner Taylor Schlueter also updated county commissioners on compliance. In July, when discussions about raising STR compliance began, more than half of short-term rentals in unincorporated Grand County — 493 units — were unregistered.
Since then, Schlueter said, the county has received 257 applications, including 188 renewals and 69 new requests, reducing noncompliance by 52%. Additionally, the county has collected $54,000 in fees from these applications.
During discussions, multiple members of the public asked commissioners what else was being done to address the growth of short-term rentals in the county and their potential impact on the community.
Commissioners emphasized that more work addressing short-term rentals is on the way.
“This isn’t the end all be all,” Commissioner Merrit Linke said. “This is a step in the process.”
A workgroup composed of county staff, representatives from property management companies, concerned neighbors and representatives from the various county fire departments will be diving into the bigger issues related to short-term rentals.
The group has outlined three goals, the first being to raise short-term rental registration compliance in unincorporated Grand to 90% by Dec. 31. With the amendments approved on Sept. 21, along with a contract update for the service that monitors the county’s short-term rentals for compliance and enforcement, county staff believes they will be able to achieve the first goal.
The other two goals relate to a countywide nexus study to determine the effects of short-term rental saturation on Grand County, along with a process to better define and enforce expectations for safety compliance.
Enforcement continues to be a struggle for the county.
The county’s STR regulations allow for penalties beyond a warning. A first infraction results in a warning, second violation means a $500 fine, a third is a $1,000 fine, and a fourth would result in a one-year permit suspension. However, the community development department, which is in charge of enforcement, struggles with a lack of evidence.
This year, Grand has issued two violation letters for STRs — one related to trash and one related to noise.
According to county spokesperson Christine Travis, cases often end up with property owners disputing the claim. An additional challenge comes from the fact that violations often occur outside business hours, making it harder to document the violations.
Travis said that when homeowners call the nonemergency number for the Grand County Sheriff’s Office to address immediate issues such as late night parties, that doesn’t necessarily translate to a zoning violation. The resident would still need to provide the community development department with evidence of the violation.
“We recognize that — from a resident’s perspective — having to make reports with two different county departments may be frustrating, but the two offices serve very different functions, and operate on different systems,” Travis said.
Commissioners said they’d like to see more stringent punishments for violators in the coming months.
“The next bite, in my opinion, is enforcement,” Commissioner Kris Manguso said at the meeting.
At the direction of the county commissioners, the workgroup will begin examining fees and fines related to registration compliance. The commissioners hoped additional changes could be brought forth by the end of this year.
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