Summit County officials have been talking for years about the negative effects on neighborhoods caused by overnight rentals like those found on Airbnb. But until recently, as Councilman Malena Stevens said Wednesday, many believed the state had effectively extinguished the county’s ability to regulate the industry.
“We found out two weeks ago that we could do anything about nightly rentals regarding regulations, whereas our previous understanding – at least mine – was that it was not something we had the ability to regulate,” Stevens said. “And I want to make sure that whatever we put in place, that we do it right.
After a county attorney told the board they could impose regulations, the board floated the idea of temporarily halting new overnight rental licenses while it worked to craft new rules. A draft order that the council failed to pass on Wednesday would have barred new licenses until January. Such a move would only have affected overnight rentals within Summit County itself and not within any city limits. Nor would it apply to licenses already in place.
Instead of approving the order, the council decided to hold a public hearing next week to seek comments on the idea of a moratorium. Councilors did not allow comments from the room full of opponents of the plan, although there were some short conversations back and forth.
The Park City Council of Realtors emailed its members a call to action last week, asking them to attend the meeting to oppose the moratorium and calling it the council’s No. 1 issue. . The emails said a moratorium could have a huge impact on contracted property sales and suggested that homeowners had the right to do whatever they wanted with their homes.
Councilor Doug Clyde discussed the downsides of some overnight rentals, including parking congestion and the effective hollowing out of neighborhoods: the replacement of homes that once housed families with homes that were empty or filled with tourists.
“We’re not just a resort,” Clyde said. “There are people who live here who want to be part of these communities, who want to know their neighbors, who want their children to play in the park and who don’t want to be disturbed late at night.
As for how the council wants to regulate the industry, Stevens suggested the county could require an Airbnb or Vrbo home to have posted instructions so tenants know how to evacuate in an emergency, for example.
Councilor Glenn Wright said his biggest concern with overnight rentals was wildfire safety and suggested banning them in the area known as the Wildlands Urban Interface, where homes are built among forests and open spaces.
But for many in the community, listing their home on a site like Airbnb is a source of income.
No realtor contacted by KPCW would officially speak. Some said people who buy property in the Park City area view it as an investment, and while owners may live in the home for a while, they rely on the property to generate rental income.
Councilor Roger Armstrong said it probably wouldn’t make sense to limit overnight rentals to places that wouldn’t be likely locations for long-term rentals, such as an upscale condo hotel at the foot of ‘a ski station. But the regulations could make sense in neighborhoods where houses or apartments would otherwise be available for a longer-term tenant.
The Board of Realtors also said the moratorium infringes on private property rights. For Clyde and Armstrong, this argument did not hold water. Clyde said the government is well within its rights to regulate something that affects the health, safety and welfare of the community.
Armstrong likened the situation to a dispute over a proposed residential detox facility in the Highland Estates neighborhood, in which neighbors overwhelmingly oppose the project despite the landlord’s apparent right to use the land in this way.
“So I assume everyone in this room is going to leave this meeting and attend the next planning commission meeting to insist that this owner has the right to do whatever he wants to do with his property there- down. Since property rights are the leader – (crowd shouts) — okay, okay, I’m just asking,” Armstrong said. “So I’m not buying that one either.
The council suggested it would impose regulations by tightening the requirements for obtaining overnight rental business licenses. These licenses must be renewed annually by mid-January. Any new regulations imposed by the county would not affect overnight rentals in Park City, which already has policies governing them.
Next week’s public hearing is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, June 1 at the Ledges Event Center, 202 Park Road in Coalville. It will also be broadcast on the county’s Facebook page and via Zoom.