Since implementing its first round of ordinances meant to regulate short-term rentals in 2019, the City of Leadville has faced persistent challenges in how to regulate the booming industry. After gathering data and looking to other small towns facing similar issues, the city is embarking on a process to refine the regulations.
The ordinances adopted last year aimed to control the growth of short-term rentals in the city. But implementation of the ordinances has faced stumbling blocks.
Residents seeking licensure from the city to list their properties through services like Airbnb and VRBO have voiced confusion and frustration around the process, Gabby Voeller, chair of the Leadville Planning and Zoning Commission, said.
Under the current regulations, the city issues three types of licenses for short-term rentals. Class one licenses are meant for Leadville residents who rent one property and live here full time. Class two licenses are issued to property owners who do not live in the residence they are renting and only have one property for rent. Class three licenses are meant for property owners who operate multiple short-term rental properties owned by a non-resident.
The convoluted process has left property owners unclear about the licensure needed, and the process revealed numerous unanticipated complications, Voeller said.
In addition to confusion about licensure from homeowners wanting to list their property as a short-term rental, Voeller said the city regularly receives complaints from residents who live near short-term rental properties.
According to Voeller, locals have reported to the city that they have difficulty finding parking when the properties are being rented, and are concerned with noise from large gatherings and parties held by guests.
Recognizing the shortfalls in the current code and seeing a steady increase in the number of properties being listed as short-term rentals, the city commissioned a study to determine the current state of short-term rentals in Leadville and assess how the industry may progress locally.
In addition to data, the city has been looking to towns facing similar issues, including Salida and Crested Butte, for templates to model new rules after, Voeller told the Herald.
Proposed changes include what kinds of licenses short-term rentals are required to maintain, a limit on how many properties can be used for short-term rentals in the city and a review process for certain types of short-term rental properties.
A simplified two-tiered license model would eliminate class three licenses. Homeowners who live in the property they want to rent would need a class one license, while those who are renting properties that do not serve as their primary residence would need a class two license.
Under the proposed changes, the city would also limit the number of residences allowed to act as short-term rental properties to no more than 12% of the total housing stock in the city. The cap would only apply to class one licenses with three or more rental units and all class two licenses.
According to a summary of the proposed changes issued by the city, Leadville currently has 1,175 residential properties, 146 of which are registered, some without licenses, as short-term rental properties available for use. Twenty of those 146 properties have been identified as inactive by the city.
Of these units, 96 would count toward the cap, allowing for some growth of the industry given the number of residential properties currently available.
Additionally, the new ordinances would require all class two license applicants and anyone who wants to rent out three or more units to apply for a conditional use permit. The permits are meant to address the issues of parking, noise complaints and other impacts on the neighborhoods surrounding short-term rental properties.
The review process opened for public comment this week with a Leadville Planning and Zoning Commission meeting Wednesday.
Most of the input received leading up to Wednesday’s meeting has come from members of the real estate industry, Voeller said, though the city hopes to hear from a diversity of people.
The next meeting regarding the proposed changes will be a joint public hearing between the commission and City Council on December 8.