Original article from Steamboat Pilot & Today
In a unanimous vote Tuesday, Dec. 6, Steamboat Springs City Council agreed with city staff’s recommendation to extend the deadline for obtaining a short-term rental license to April 30.
City staff requested an extension because Steamboat’s software vendor, CityView, needs more time to configure the licensing software, which is preventing staff from receiving and reviewing an expected 3,000 applications for short-term rental licenses.
The extension doesn’t affect the Jan. 1 deadline for obtaining legal non-conforming status or the June 15 cutoff for establishing the operation of an existing short-term rental to be grandfathered in. That means the delay won’t cause more short-term rental licenses to be issued, but the setback will affect how the regulations City Council passed over the summer will be enforced.
Because many of new regulations on short-term rentals depend on licensing, enforcement will be similar to the status quo until the end of the winter season.
Once licenses are issued, complaints against short-term rentals will be handled by a specialized hearing officer, whom the city has already hired. However, without licenses in place, complaints will have to pertain to municipal code violations, such as noise complaints, and continue to go through municipal court.
For the time being, complaints relating to specific operational requirements included in the short-term rental licensing code, such as occupancy limits, won’t be enforced.
As a bridge between now and when licenses are issued, city staff prepared amendments to the licensing code that will allow city officials to take municipal court convictions into consideration when deciding whether to issue or renew a short-term rental license.
Another amendment will allow prior short-term rental convictions to be treated as prior offenses, which could affect the hearings officer’s decisions on fines, license suspensions and recommendations for license revocation.
After some deliberation, City Council directed city staff to deploy the 24/7 hotline for short-term rental complaints despite limitations. Because the licenses attach contact information for local responsible parties, such as a property management company, to short-term rental listings, the hotline would operate in a limited capacity until licenses are issued.
According to the city’s data, 83.5% of short-term rental units have an identified street address, meaning some complaints against short-term rental properties would have to be handled like any other residence.
“We really want to make sure that the community understands that their first interaction with the hotline might not be the best, and that with some patience and some time, we can have a fully operational hotline,” Steamboat Planning Director Rebecca Bessey told City Council on Nov. 15.
Despite the unanimous vote, some City Council members were reluctant to approve the extension.
“We made a commitment to the community, and we’re not meeting our commitment,” council member Gail Garey said during the Nov. 15 council meeting, when the ordinance to extend the deadline passed on first reading.
However, she did vote to approve the ordinance on its first reading and again during Tuesday’s second reading.
City Council floated the idea of processing paper applications in the interim period, but city staff advised against that approach because it would strain staff to process thousands of applications manually, which staff said would delay issuing licenses through CityView even further.
“I think this is really good, and we just want to make sure we do it right,” council member Michael Buccino said. “We’re gonna have a hotline. I just think that giving this (extension) would help people move forward.”