ALAMOSA — The public hearing for an ordinance altering the city code on short-term rentals was rather contentious and City Council opted to table the issue until a work session and a community discussion can be held. The city also instructed staff to publish a moratorium on the issue, a moratorium is the temporary prohibition of an activity in this case short-term rental licensure. The date for that to be published was not discussed.
The city has been forthcoming that Alamosa doesn’t have a short-term rental (STR) problem right now. City staff has time and time again expressed the vital role that vacation rentals play in both short-term employment as well as tourism.
An angle discussed on the topic is the effect STR’s effect on the housing market. When the issue was first brought before council on November 17 a statistic was presented that the number of STR’s in Alamosa had increased sevenfold from 3 to 24 in approximately four years. That number got a substantial shot in the arm growing by another 45% in the past two weeks to 35. The current registered total of 35 vacation rentals compared to Alamosa’s housing needs which this spring’s housing study estimated an adjusted 72 housing units are needed to fill vacant jobs. Meaning just under half of the current housing need may be tied up in the short-term rental market.
The department of local affairs estimates a local growth of 1% in Alamosa, which the housing study estimates that Alamosa could need 130 new housing units by 2026 to keep up with that demand.
The main goal behind getting some language on the books is to get ahead of the issue before it can become a problem all while balancing individual property rights with the tug-of-war developing between short-term vacationers and long-term residents with respect to creating a healthy city of Alamosa.
As a focal point of the San Luis Valley Alamosa and her surroundings continue on the path toward being a tourism destination and is host to 13 hotels and motels and will soon be welcoming another.
For the second hearing city staff was sure to listen to council instruction regarding the ordinance making adjustments for the second reading. An issue on the ordinance was a ‘buffer-zone’ preventing new STR’s to be built within a range of an existing STR with the goal of keeping certain neighborhoods from getting overpopulated while others are untouched. The range was lessened to 150 feet from 300. The idea was not very popular with residents nor with city council and while it was agreed that a cap on the amount of rentals per neighborhood was needed, the buffer zone was not felt to be the correct measure.
The ordinance also added language that expressed that licensure on the property for STR use could change hands from owner to owner under direction from city council on November 17. This was also a point of contention.
Another work session was the consensus path forward from council which Eclipse Property Mangagement’s Chuck Kelly offered to take part in.
After over two hours of public comment and discussion, it was moved that the issue be tabled until staff felt comfortable bringing the issue back to council. When asked when they would feel comfortable it was replied when more public comment and a work session could be held.