Winter Park convenes working group to discuss STR regulations |

Winter Park convenes working group to discuss STR regulations

An AirBnB search of short-term rentals shows over 300 options in Winter Park.
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Winter Park is formalizing a working group to assess short-term rentals in town and suggest regulations.

The town council is convening a group of community members, town staff and stakeholders with the goal of quantifying the number of short-term rentals in the community and analyzing their impacts. The plan is to use this information to decide how to best regulate the units.

“There is a desire for some data gathering … putting numbers to what is the impact short-term rentals have on the community,” said Keith Riesberg, town manager. “Staff has already done a lot of research done about ordinances from other communities. From there we can start letting (the working group) identify what the components are that make sense for Winter Park.”

Right now, members of the working group are Winter Park Assistant Town Manager Alisha Janes, Winter Park Clerk Danielle Jardin, Fraser Winter Park Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Catherine Ross, Suzy Robbins, Rebecca Kaufman, Shanna Lalley, Al Furlone and Mark Gibson.

The town also plans to reach out to Winter Park Resort, along with hotel and lodging owners, to help round out the group. Council is expected to approve the workgroup on March 3.

Likely, one of the group’s first priorities will be identifying how many short-term rental units are in town and what average occupancy needs are so council has an idea of what the demand looks like.

“One of the things that I think we’ve said so many times is identifying what’s really out there … what would help us get those numbers is just registration requirements, whether that comes with a fee or not,” said Lizbeth Lemley, finance and human resources director.

Once that has been established, council members hope the group will look at both positive and negative impacts the units are having on the community and suggest regulations. Ideas discussed at two council workshops include a long-term rental incentive program and a short-term rental fee.

At this point, Reisberg expects the group to be on a three month timeline based on the suggested scope of work.

In other business:

• The council approved a special use permit for Winter Park Resort’s Wells Fargo Cup on Feb. 21-23. 

• Public Works Director Gerry Vernon presented a contract for the town engineer with JVA Consulting Engineers, which the council approved. Vernon said he chose JVA based on its local presence, low rates and history with the town.

• The council approved a parking variance for Hideaway Park Brewery and Fraser Valley Hot Dog after the property use changed and parking had to be recalculated. The recalculation would have required the businesses to have 22 parking spaces, while the variance only requires 12 spaces.

• The council directed Community Development Director James Shockey to amend a commercial enhancement grant with Stoked Meeting House that reduces the scope of the improvements and size of the grant. The original grant was $34,628, while the amended grant is $12,464. The owner told the council that the two big changes that got nixed were a plan for a French door entrance that ended up being structurally improbable and a fence around the property.

• The town also continues to seek interest from residents on its deed restriction program to determine how much funding the program might need.

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