Lakewood looks at short-term rentals

The city will send the issue to an upcoming commission

Posted 5/29/19

Lakewood resident Shanna Guy has used short-term rental services multiple times the past few years while traveling. She describes each of her stays as an “exceptional experience” where she met …

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Lakewood looks at short-term rentals

The city will send the issue to an upcoming commission

Posted

Lakewood resident Shanna Guy has used short-term rental services multiple times the past few years while traveling. She describes each of her stays as an “exceptional experience” where she met new people and went to local businesses around the neighborhoods of her short-term rentals.

But the Lakewood City Council wants to make sure that short-term rentals in the city are a good experience for the city itself, which is why a council study session on May 5 examined how to regulate short-term rentals and the benefits and consequences that can come with allowing residents to use their homes in such a way.

Short-term rental services, often run through online websites like AirBnB and Vacation Rental by Owner (VRBO), are rentals that last for 30 days, or less. After weighing out the concerns that come with short-term rentals, something that isn’t currently allowed in the city, the council decided to create a new commission to help craft a policy proposal.

Short-term rentals in Lakewood

Lakewood City Councilmember Charley Able pointed out that he is concerned that short-term rentals could change the character of the city’s neighborhoods.

“If a couple wants to have a short-term rental operation in their house, and it helps them afford to live there, that’s a good thing. On the other hand, if people are investing in homes in order to make them short-term rentals, that changes the character of a neighborhood,” Able said at the study session.

Lakewood City Councilmember Dana Gutwein echoed Able’s point about protecting the character of neighborhoods. She said she believes the city needs to move in a cautious and thoughtful way when it comes to what it decides to do with short-term rentals.

Planning staff had previously recommended short-term rentals a permitted use in a proposed amendment to the city’s zoning code. However, Council requested for short-term rentals to be removed from the amendment so that it could discuss the issue more.

Gutwein said Council needs to ensure that the owner of a house will stay there when hosting a short-term rental service. She also brought up potential parking issues short-term rentals can cause.

“Property rights are an attribute of an economic good, and I should have the right to use the good, the right to have an income from the good, the right to transfer the good, and the right to enforce my property rights,” said Guy at the study session.

Lakewood City Councilmember Jacob LaBure said he has personally used Airbnb before and has had good experiences with it. He described himself as someone who enjoys using shared technology services like scooters and car shares. However, he said he doesn’t see short-term rentals as a “one size fits all issue.” LaBure expressed his concerns about code enforcement, parking issues and brought up how some cities have had issues with long-term renters being pushed out by short-term rentals.

“I’m happy to learn more and see if there are solutions out there,” said LaBure.

Ultimately, Council decided to send the issue to its Housing Policy Commission that doesn’t exist quite yet. That commission will put together a final proposal to City Council.

“We can study this issue every Monday night for the next five years. At some point you have to be willing to say this is what we want in our community and this is what we don’t,” said Lakewood Mayor Adam Paul.

A new commissionion

If a drafted ordinance is adopted, the Housing Policy Commission will be created in June. The proposed ordinance would see the commission made up of City Council members from each ward and Paul. The commission would include Ramey Johnson of Ward 1, Sharon Vincent of Ward 1, Pete Roybal of Ward 3, Barb Franks of Ward 4 and Karen Harrison of Ward 5.

The Housing Policy Commission will be responsible for developing and recommending housing-related polices to City Council for discussion and possible action, according to Stacie Oulton, a spokesperson for the city.

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