New Regulations on Short-Term Rentals in Aspen Are in Effect

Permits

After much debate, consternation and controversy in the Aspen community for the past several months, the new regulations for short-term rentals go into effect Friday, July 29.

Ordinance 9, passed unanimously by Aspen City Council last month, gives teeth to enforcement regarding how operators manage short-term rental units.

All valid short-term permits issued prior to Dec. 8, when council placed a moratorium on the issuance of new ones until Oct. 1, are now subject to new rules that if violated could mean revocation.

Those regulations include occupancy limits, life safety requirements, noise and nuisance complaints, wildlife safety measures, proper and timely tax remittances and more. Haley Hart, long-range planner for the city, said many of the regulations are focused on being a good neighbor and changes it from being a passive enforcement system to an active one.

“This idea of losing your permit on the grounds if you were not operating on a good-faith effort and being a good neighbor with your short-term rental — that in of itself may have some ramifications for folks who have let things slide,” she said. “If neighbors who operate short-term rentals are consistently leaving their trash out and bears are getting into it or having noisy, late-night parties that are beyond the noise ordinance, (those infractions) are grounds for the three-strikes-and-you’re-out policy.”

The city has created a new position to handle the short-term rental program, and recently hired Emmy Garrigus as the lodging and commercial core program manager.

“What I see my role primarily being is a resource to help people understand the regulations and understand the requirements of the program,” she said.

Complaints will initially come to her and then it will be determined which city department is most appropriate to respond, whether that is community development, building, parks, police or someone else.

“That is a key component of Emmy’s role to be that liaison between the community and the different departments within the city of Aspen and who is best to help meet the concerns of the issues that come forth and help find resolution between those,” said Jami McMannes, the city’s communication manager.

Council late last year placed an emergency moratorium on the issuance of new short-term rental permits so city officials could get a handle on a fast-growing industry that has created unmitigated growth in the community and impacts to neighborhoods, according to officials.

Hart said the city is receiving a lot of questions from people about how the permitting system is going to work and much of them can be answered on a new municipal government webpage at aspen.gov/strs.

“People are excited to get a permit,” she said. “Maybe they didn’t have one before or they didn’t have a valid 2021 permit, so there’s definitely folks who’ve reached out expressing their enthusiasm for the Oct. 1 date.”

When the moratorium for the issuance of short-term rental permits lifts on Oct. 1, city officials said they expect an influx of applications, particularly those that are classified as “Classic STR-C”.

The number of those are limited in 14 zone districts throughout the city to 75% of existing ones.

Hart said there are currently 540 short-term rental permits in those zones, and through attrition the estimation is that they will be reduced to 407.

New applicants will be put on a waitlist in zones with STR-C permits. Existing short-term rental permits will be grandfathered in and those who have them must reapply by Dec. 31.

STR-C permits are available to non-owner-occupied or owner-occupied residential properties, and there is no limit on the number of nights per year the rental can operate.

A property owner is required on the application, meaning LLCs without a verifiable name won’t be accepted.

There are no limits to STR-C permits in commercial and lodge zones.

“That is because that is the core, that is where we want folks to be short-terming,” Hart said. “That is the heartbeat of the core, that is where we want visitors to be and really keep the concentration in those areas that have access to transportation, access to resources, recreation. Those zones were designed and specifically meant for activities like short-term rentals.”

Owner-occupied (STR-OO) permits do not have a cap on them in any zone district where short-term rentals are allowed, but they are limited to 120 rental nights a year.

Those permits are available to those who use their residential property as their primary residence for a minimum of six months a year.

As of December, there were 1,319 valid vacation rental permits.

Staff in the GIS department are currently working on a map showing where all of the short-term rentals are located.

Depending on future revisions to the short-term rental program, staff will return to council with a resolution adopting those guidelines prior to Oct. 1.

With Jan. 1, 2023, as a major milestone for the renewal of existing permits and the issuance of new ones, staff anticipates returning to council for a work session in the first quarter to discuss the new program.

By: Carolyn Sackariason I The Aspen Times I July 29, 2022


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