Sunday, November 27, 2011

Jackson, Wyoming Cracking Down on Vacation Rentals


BY TRAM WHITEHURST, JACKSON HOLE DAILY
OCTOBER 22, 2011
The town of Jackson is considering tightening its enforcement of rules that prohibit short-term property rentals in residential neighborhoods.
Homeowners in certain districts who continue to advertise and rent their homes on a weekly basis could face a $750 citation and a day in court, according to new planning department guidelines.
The issue has been a concern to Jackson town councilors since at least April 2010, when stricter enforcement was last discussed. Councilors and town staff say that short-term rentals degrade community character, under-mine workforce housing and collect no lodging or sales tax.
“When we allow businesses, by de facto operation, to exist in residential neighborhoods and spend all kind of staff time chasing them around, we’re allowing them to be disrupting neigh-borhoods, to be taking bed base from legitimate business without sales tax or lodging tax,” Mayor Mark Barron said at Monday’s council meeting. “So I just don’t think we’re being responsible to the community if we don’t address this.”
Under current regulations, property owners are allowed to rent units for fewer than 30 days only within the lodging overlay and only if approved by the council to be used as a short-term rental.
The overlay encompasses a large swath of downtown Jackson, stretching from North Cache Street down to Hansen and Simpson avenues and from Jean Street west to Flat Creek Drive. There also is a small segment of the overlay that covers a portion of Snow King Avenue.
The short-term rentals are advertised on a variety of websites geared to vacationers, such as Vacation Rentals By Owner. Town planning staff monitor the sites and print out snap-shots of the web pages as proof of violations.
To date, the town has relied on warning letters and voluntary compliance to address the violations. But because the problem persists — even if only among a handful of homeowners — the planning department intends to take a stronger enforcement approach.
 In general, town staff has been following a “three-strike” policy to gain voluntary compliance, which means the removal of references to weekly rates.
 If a short-term rental is identified on a website, a first letter is sent to the property owner notifying him or her of the violation and requesting voluntary compliance.
 If the listing is not removed, a second letter is sent directing him or her to contact the town’s code enforcement officer.
 Finally, a third letter is sent notifying the owner that if he or she doesn’t comply within seven days, a citation and summons will be issued. The municipal judge will then decide if the fine is $750 for one violation or for each day the property remained listed after notification.
 Planning staff is also considering posting comments on websites that list the rentals to let potential visitors know the rentals are illegal.
 “This should be so painful that people stop doing it,” Barron said.

2 comments:

  1. Banning short-term vacation rentals is just another sad example of too much government. These vacation rental owners usually put a LOT more care into their properties than their full-time (and often jealous) neighbors do. They depend on Internet reviews, so make every effort to keep their places looking great. They regularly buy furniture, household items, and hire local people to make constant improvements, which stimulates the economy and increases EVERYONE'S property value. This, of course, generates more revenue for the Town of Jackson. Additionally, short-term renters are at the properties a lot less than long-term renters. (The "transient" argument is baseless). They're out most of the time sightseeing and spending money (usually substantially more than motel guests) on activities, events, shopping, dining, etc. It's the younger, irresponsible LONG-TERM and seasonal renters that throw loud parties after inviting their friends over, while creating parking nightmares. Our elected officials need to amend antiquated and inconsistent laws (i.e., selective enforcement where some communities are zoned to rent short-term and others are unfairly not - lawyers???) and educate themselves, instead of blindly voting against this because it's "politically correct". If they were economically astute, they'd do what states such as Montana does that actually promotes short-term rentals in their resort towns. Instead of doing business "in the shadows", everyone happily gets licensed/regulated and PAYS TAXES (which they easily collect from their guests who expect it) because, as a result, they get free advertising on the state's on-line vacation directory. This results in more business for the vacation rental owners, that they put right back into the local economy, plus more TAX REVENUE for the state (7%) and resort town (3%). Creating a "lack of employee housing" is another poor argument and shouldn't be the homeowner's problem. This is a TOURISM-BASED town. Therefore, we should cater to what a huge number of tourists want so they continue to come here with their families - vacation rentals. Besides, capitalism is what made this country exceptional. It should be encouraged, not outlawed, particularly in the great State of Wyoming.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Banning short-term vacation rentals is just another sad example of too much government. These vacation rental owners usually put a LOT more care into their properties than their full-time (and often jealous) neighbors do. They depend on Internet reviews, so make every effort to keep their places looking great. They regularly buy furniture, household items, and hire local people to make constant improvements, which stimulates the economy and increases EVERYONE'S property value. This, of course, generates more revenue for the Town of Jackson. Additionally, short-term renters are at the properties a lot less than long-term renters. (The "transient" argument is baseless). They're out most of the time sightseeing and spending money (usually substantially more than motel guests) on activities, events, shopping, dining, etc. It's the younger, irresponsible LONG-TERM and seasonal renters that throw loud parties after inviting their friends over, while creating parking nightmares. Our elected officials need to amend antiquated and inconsistent laws (i.e., selective enforcement where some communities are zoned to rent short-term and others are unfairly not - lawyers???) and educate themselves, instead of blindly voting against this because it's "politically correct". If they were economically astute, they'd do what states such as Montana does that actually promotes short-term rentals in their resort towns. Instead of doing business "in the shadows", everyone happily gets licensed/regulated and PAYS TAXES (which they easily collect from their guests who expect it) because, as a result, they get free advertising on the state's on-line vacation directory. This results in more business for the vacation rental owners, that they put right back into the local economy, plus more TAX REVENUE for the state (7%) and resort town (3%). Creating a "lack of employee housing" is another poor argument and shouldn't be the homeowner's problem. This is a TOURISM-BASED town. Therefore, we should cater to what a huge number of tourists want so they continue to come here with their families - vacation rentals. Besides, capitalism is what made this country exceptional. It should be encouraged, not outlawed, particularly in the great State of Wyoming.

    ReplyDelete

Thoughtful comments are welcome, whether you are in favor of vacation rentals or concerned about the impacts of VRs on your community. Comments that contain advertising, including ads for properties, will be deleted.