Grand Lake fines man $2,000 in rental ordinance case
October 18, 2009
The Town of Grand Lake is pursuing violators of its nightly rental license requirement.
The town prosecuted its first case last week over a recent violation of the 2006 nightly rental ordinance.
Municipal court Judge Richard McQueary found John Beckwith guilty on a second offense of advertising a nightly rental without a license and fined him $2,000.
Beckwith, who lives in the Denver area, was trying to rent property at 312 Grand Ave. on behalf of an elder relative.
The family had received several written warnings about coming into compliance with the law, according to town code enforcement officer Dan Korkowski.
The ordinance requires property owners renting residential units for less than 30 consecutive days to obtain a $400 nightly rental license, which must be renewed annually in January.
The code also makes it illegal to advertise for a nightly rental without the license.
Korkowski has been hunting down violators by searching for online advertisements at Craigslist.org, vrbo.com and other Internet classified providers.
He wrote Beckwith a ticket after responding to an ad he found on Craigslist for a nightly rental in Grand Lake in June.
Korkowski said he used his confirmation name “Peter” in the request to avoid being recognized.
When Beckwith replied from his personal e-mail that the property was available for rent, Korkowski wrote him a summons.
Beckwith attempted to defend himself in the case using a variety of arguments, from entrapment to the constitutionality of the law.
During more than two hours of proceedings, Beckwith called Korkowski and town manager Shane Hale to the stand. McQueary prevented him from calling the town’s attorney, Scotty Krob, stating that the municipal court was not the proper venue to question the constitutionality of a law and that Krob was not qualified to speak on the matter.
McQueary found Beckwith guilty and charged him $200 per day that the ad was posted on Craigslist. The ordinance allows the fine to be up to $300 per day.
More than 90 people hold nightly rental licenses in Grand Lake, according to town records.
Only one other person has been ticketed for failing to comply with the law, Korkowski said. That man failed to show up to his court date and there is a warrant out for his arrest.
– Reid Armstrong can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19610 or email@example.com.