Council continues debating short-term rental regulations

Ordinance will likely require owners to live on site much of the year

Posted 10/28/18

Littleton officials are still busily hashing out regulations to govern short-term housing rentals — like those offered through Airbnb — with a finalized ordinance expected by mid-December. City …

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Council continues debating short-term rental regulations

Ordinance will likely require owners to live on site much of the year

Posted

Littleton officials are still busily hashing out regulations to govern short-term housing rentals — like those offered through Airbnb — with a finalized ordinance expected by mid-December.

City council discussed a draft ordinance given to them by the city planning commission at the Oct. 23 study session. City staff took feedback from council during the session, and will incorporate council's suggestions into a subsequent draft of the ordinance to be discussed in open council in coming weeks.

The ordinance will likely include language limiting short-term rentals to one per owner, and require that the owner use the dwelling as their primary residence at least eight months out of the year.

Requiring owners to live on-site much of the year is important to ensuring neighborhood harmony, said Councilmember Patrick Driscoll.

“If there's a homeowner present, they can use their best judgment,” Driscoll said. “They won't let 30 people there for a party.”

The ordinance will also likely allow short-term rentals in all areas of the city zoned for residential use.

“I'm good with (short-term rentals) in all zones,” said Councilmember Kyle Schlachter, saying that if long-term rentals are allowed in all residential zones, short-term rentals should be too.

The ordinance would likely limit occupancy of short-term rentals to no more than five people who aren't immediate family members of the owner.

Short-term rental operators will likely have to apply for a license, which will require annual renewal. The draft ordinance suggests a $20 to $25 fee for a license, though that number may change after further study, said City Attorney Steve Kemp.

Though the ordinance will become binding city code as soon as it's enacted, Kemp said, currently unlicensed short-term rental owners will effectively have a year-long grace period to come into compliance, with more stringent enforcement beginning in January 2020.

The city currently has nine licensed short-term rentals, which are classified as home-based businesses. A search of short-term rental websites shows dozens more operating without licenses within the city.

In years past, enforcement was reactionary, Mayor Debbie Brinkman said in September. Brinkman said in previous interviews that the city would likely contract with a third-party company that would monitor short-term rental websites, looking for unlicensed rentals.

City council declared a moratorium on new licenses for short-term rentals in July, after a group of citizens approached council about an unlicensed rental in their south Littleton neighborhood. Though the moratorium initially was slated to conclude in October, council extended the period to as far as January 2019 at an October meeting.

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