Longtime debate continues about Arvada’s short-term rentals

Upcoming council vote could allow and regulate STRs

Casey Van Divier
cvandivier@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 6/3/20

Arvada has not yet put an ordinance in place to allow homes to be used for short-term rentals (STR’s) of 30 days or less, even as the city currently has dozens of STR listings between rental sites …

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Longtime debate continues about Arvada’s short-term rentals

Upcoming council vote could allow and regulate STRs

Posted

Arvada has not yet put an ordinance in place to allow homes to be used for short-term rentals (STR’s) of 30 days or less, even as the city currently has dozens of STR listings between rental sites Airbnb and VRBO.

Listings are spread across the city, with a particularly high number — 10 active listings or more — concentrated in some areas including the Allendale Area and Memorial Park neighborhood.

Because the rentals are so prevalent, Arvada has been working to draft an ordinance that would allow STRs to operate legally in the city, while at the same time address residents’ concerns.

With council’s final decision yet to come, those who have had experience with STRs, whether that means operating one or living next to one, are making their own judgments on if and how the rentals fit into the Arvada community.

For some, like Arvada resident Shannon Edwards, living next-door to an STR has been a difficult experience, she said.

“The lawn is not taken care of regularly. The trash cans sit next to my bedroom window and are usually overflowing,” she said. “There are multiple cars parked in front of my place where I park. Most of all, it’s an eyesore and the people staying there don’t care about taking care of things.”

Edwards isn’t alone in her reservations about STRs. Among some Arvada neighborhoods, particularly those with HOAs, it is common for there to be some limitations or a complete restriction on the rentals.

For instance, community manager Rachael Burke, who manages several Arvada communities including the West Woods Estates HOA, said every Arvada community she manages does not allow rentals under 90 days.

“The major concern is around safety from the members,” Burke said. “There is also the shared common areas which these short-term rentals are not paying for.”

On the other side of the coin, there are those who have rented out their own properties and believe STRs can benefit the city if done in the right way.

“Absolutely, I’m for it,” said resident Alicia Hutchens. “It brings all these people to Arvada and they’re eating and shopping here. It promotes our city in a positive way.”

From 2016 to 2018, Hutchens and her husband used Airbnb to rent out their basement to guests stopping by the city, typically young families wanting to see Denver or visitors in the area for weddings or conferences.

The business was an easy way for the family to earn extra spending money, Hutchens said, and only came to an end when the couple needed more space after the birth of their second child. Around the same time, they learned that the city of Arvada did not technically allow STRs anyway, she said.

But looking ahead, if the ordinance to allow STRs is passed, the family might eventually look into renting out their space again, she said.

“People were really respectful of the space and it worked out really well for our neighborhood,” she said, adding that her family was always staying in the main part of the home whenever the basement was rented out.

“I understand people’s concerns with short-term rentals, but I think it can be done and regulated responsibly in a way that addresses those concerns,” she said.

In an effort to do just that, during its May 11 workshop, council asked the city team to update its latest draft of the proposed ordinance. With the updates, extra restrictions would be put in place.

The potential restrictions include limiting how many STRs one resident could operate — an individual could only get an STR license for a maximum of two residences, including their primary residence.

The updated draft would also limit how may days out of a year a residence can be rented out, with council suggesting the city make that a limitation around six to nine months.

Even before the updates, the draft has already outlined methods of enforcement if an STR owner goes against the regulations. Depending on the nature of a complaint againt an STR owner, the complaint may be handled as a code enforcement, building code or criminal violation, said community and economic development director Ryan Stachelski.

Ramifications could include fines or penalties specific to the situation that caused concern, such as needing to fix a broken window.

As of May 26, the city team had incorporated the updates into its draft and the legal team was reviewing the new draft, Stachelski said.

“We do not have a date to bring this back before city council yet” for a final vote, Stachelski said. “But given the relatively minor changes to our current draft, we hope to bring it back shortly.”

Council agendas are posted prior to Monday night city council meetings at arvada.org/city-hall.

In the meantime, while councilmembers have yet to make their votes, the majority of them stated they felt the changes could be the right compromise for Arvada.

“I like the feel of where we’re going with this better” than original plans without the restrictions, councilmember Bob Fifer said. “I can get behind this and support this direction.”

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