City Council and the Leadville Planning and Zoning Commission is maintaining the city’s status quo of a 12 percent cap on short-term rentals, but will be cracking down on non-compliant owners.
The number of short-term rentals in Leadville increased from 141 to 171 from 2021 to 2022. The increase in short-term rentals prompted a new conversation during a June 14 work session.
“We were all a little shocked by the increase in licenses without a corresponding increase in the number of homes,” said Leadville Mayor Greg Labbe. He said he doesn’t think the number of short-term rentals will change dramatically again.
The city introduced a 12 percent cap on short-term rentals in 2021, meaning these properties cannot make up more than 12 percent of the total number of homes in Leadville. City Council and the Planning and Zoning Commission decided to leave the cap at 12 percent during the work session, but are giving short-term rental owners one last chance to become compliant.
In prior discussions, council and commission members had differing opinions over whether the city should lower the cap percentage for short-term rentals so there are fewer licenses given out. While the cap remains at 12 percent, the city plans to revisit the issue in January of next year.
Right now, there are 16 short-term rental owners in Leadville who are non-compliant. Property owners become non-compliant when they advertise a short-term rental without a license, said Leadville Administrative Assistant Lori Tye.
The city has a platform called Muni-Revs which monitors advertising and compares it to licenses issued. “If a property is advertising without a license, they are non-compliant,” said Tye.
During the meeting, officials discussed whether there should be a limit on how many short-term rentals one person or corporation could have in Leadville to help prevent someone coming in and buying a dozen homes to be used as short-term rentals. This hasn’t happened in Leadville, as far as the city knows.
The discussion also focused on neighborhood cohesion and quality of life for residents. Labbe said he would consider having a certain number of short-term rentals allowed based on each city block so there’s not eight of them all together in one area, for instance.
Labbe said having a lot of short-term rentals can hurt the nature of a neighborhood with people coming and going all the time. A lot of short-term rentals don’t create any issues, but others are disruptive, lodging numerous people at one time, which can upset people in the neighborhood.
City Councilman Christian Luna-Leal said he’d be in favor of lowering the number of short-term rentals allowed, maybe to 125 instead of the current 171. He added that seeing the number of these rentals go up sends the message that the city is prioritizing tourists over locals.
Councilman Tim Hill said short-term rental owners typically do not rent out their houses long-term because they still use them and don’t want any damage that might come from long-term renting. The city has a tourist-based economy, and that’s not going to change. “We can’t be something we’re not,” said Hill.
Leadville generates tourists because of short-term rentals. Putting a hard cap on these properties means putting a hard cap on generating revenue, said Hill.
Cuiting Zhu, planning and zoning commissioner and Two Mile High Operations president, agreed that a lot of people would rather leave their house empty than rent it out long-term. As a commercial housing owner, she said it can be difficult to accommodate guests since tourists sometimes want to spend their time in actual houses rather than a hotel setting.
City Council and the Planning and Zoning Commission decided not to change any of the rules for now, but the 16 non-compliant short-term rental owners have one more chance to become compliant. “We don’t want to hurt people who have been short-term renting, and it is an economic driver,” said Labbe.
The city posted letters on the doors of non-compliant homes last week and also sent a letter to the mailing address associated with the property. “We did both of those things to make sure these people know that if they don’t act, then their short-term rental license will become null and void,” said Labbe.
There are 28 people on a waitlist to become short-term rental owners. The city will bring in however many people on the waitlist it can, depending on the number of non-compliant individuals who decide to become compliant.