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Jefferson County considers legalizing short-term home rentals

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

Jefferson County considers legalizing short-term home rentals

Posted: 08/24/2011 01:00:00 AM MDT
Updated: 08/24/2011 08:21:38 AM MDT


When Cheryl LoVecchio looks out her living room window, all she can see are the “no parking” and “no trespassing” signs she says she has put up around her Evergreen home to fend off intrusions from the house next door.

LoVecchio says the house is illegally used for short-term vacation rentals — and invariably a few vehicles end up parked on her property. The absentee owner tells her that the strangers are just friends staying at his house.

Jefferson County doesn’t permit homeowners in residential zones to rent their homes out for less than a month.

However, of the 200 complaints that the county has received about short-term rentals since the first complaint in 2004, officials have prosecuted 10 cases, staffers reported.

And complaints have heated up since 2008.

At a hearing Tuesday morning, county commissioners reconsidered permitting short-term rentals but delayed a decision. The question is whether allowing, but better regulating, short-term rentals would lessen the impact on neighborhoods.

More than a dozen of those affected neighbors, mostly from unincorporated areas around Evergreen, Golden and Littleton, testified against legitimizing such vacation rentals.

They said a steady stream of strangers in and out next door is noisy, disruptive and unsafe. And it turns area residents into police because the county doesn’t enforce its rules about short-term rentals.

“They seem innocuous to people,” said Evergreen resident Cleo Boyd. “Then one pops up next to them, and they get it. It’s a mini-hotel next door.”

Short-term rental supporters argued for homeowners’ property rights and for visitors to be able to choose a home as a lodging option.

The commission sent the matter back to the Planning Commission for further work. That advisory body voted 6-1 on Aug. 3 to reject permitting short-term rentals. It will take up the measure again in October.

“The rights of neighbors don’t supersede the rights of property owners,” said Commissioner Donald Rosier.

Short-term vacation rental websites list 30 to 70 opportunities in Jefferson County or near it, zoning administrator Mike Chadwick said.

Cheri Rubin said the Summit Ranch area has two “ongoing vacation rental nightmares” where as many as 20 people bunk nightly and fires are left burning unattended.

“We can’t prove money changes hands,” Rubin said. But if tenants’ fires destroy homes, she said, residents would hold the commissioners personally responsible.

Larry Beski said he favors short- term rentals because his elderly in-laws, now in a retirement home, need to earn income to pay property taxes on a home they’ve owned since the 1940s but have been unable to sell.

Operators of inns, bed-and-breakfast sites, motels and hotels called short-term rentals unfair competitors because they don’t pay lodging taxes or meet commercial licensing, safety or liability requirements.

Legitimizing such arrangements will make the impacts on neighborhoods worse because more homes will be rented, said Kathy Krysiak, general manager of Quality Suites on Evergreen Parkway.

Electa Draper: 303-954-1276 or

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