In a three-hour public meeting last night, the Denver Planning Commission heard public comments from supporters and opponents of the City’s proposed zoning regulations for short-term rentals. Supporters of the proposed regulations touted the benefits of short-term rentals, such as supplemental income, personal enrichment from meeting and interacting with guests, increased business for neighborhood shops and restaurants, and the creation of lodging options for neighborhoods that lack hotels and similar accommodations. Those opposed to the proposed regulations cited problems with parking availability, maintenance of public sidewalks and private landscaping, and concern over living next door to a “party house.”

As noted in a previous post, short-term rentals, defined as any rentals with terms shorter than 30 days, are currently illegal in most Denver zone districts. Despite the current state of the law, the City estimates that over 3,000 short-term rentals are being operated within City limits – bringing in approximately $13.6 million in rents per year. Denver’s proposed regulations would permit property owners (and tenants with permission from their landlords) to operate short-term rentals from their primary residences after obtaining a $25 annual license from the City. Under the new regulations, licensed hosts would be required to maintain general liability insurance, provide safety features in the property such as smoke detectors and fire extinguishers, and list the license number in any advertising for the property. Stays in short-term rentals would also be subject to the 10.75 percent lodging tax currently levied on hotel stays.

At the public hearing, many of the proponents of the new regulations opposed the primary residence requirement, citing the economic benefit of owning and managing multiple properties as short-term rentals. Although the proposed regulations would permit owners of accessory dwelling units to rent either the main house or the accessory dwelling unit, they would not permit, for example, a property owner to reside in one home and operate the home next door as a short-term rental.

The Planning Commission voted 7-2 to recommend the proposed regulations, without any change to the primary residence requirement, to City Council. Denver’s Neighborhoods and Planning Committee will consider the proposed regulations next month, followed by a full hearing before City Council in June.