Parker closes door on short-term rentals

'Tourist home' definition means neighbors can call to shut down Airbnb-style rentals

Posted 11/5/19

Parker Town Council approved an ordinance defining tourist homes in Parker at its Oct. 21 meeting, in keeping with several Denver-area municipalities that have passed similar ordinances to combat the …

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Parker closes door on short-term rentals

'Tourist home' definition means neighbors can call to shut down Airbnb-style rentals

Posted

Parker Town Council approved an ordinance defining tourist homes in Parker at its Oct. 21 meeting, in keeping with several Denver-area municipalities that have passed similar ordinances to combat the surge of short-term rentals.

The town's land development ordinance already did not permit “tourist homes,” but did not have a definition for tourist home, according to the town staff report. A tourist home, the new definition states, is any home or “dwelling unit” rented to someone for fewer than 30 days.

“(Tourist homes are) currently not permitted by code. This simply clarifies the definition of tourist home,” said Bryce Matthews, the town's planning manager, at the Oct. 21 meeting. Matthews added that enforcement of the ordinance would be complaint-driven.

The current language is as follows:

“Tourist home means any dwelling, dwelling unit or portion of any dwelling unit rented or leased for valuable consideration to a particular person or persons for periods of times less than 30 days.”

A “tourist home” is a short-term rental, often operated through apps like Airbnb or VRBO where travelers can rent a private residence or a room for a short stay. The idea has become popular in the gig economy for tourists looking for a home-away-from-home feel while vacationing. However, the locations have gained a reputatio as party spots.

Douglas County municipalities — bedroom communities for the most part — do not typically attract many tourists, and many residents were concerned about neighbors who were renting out their homes to strangers.

The planning commission passed the ordinance 6-1. Town council passed the ordinance unanimously.

Parker town officials said they do not have figures for revenue generated by tourism in 2019 or 2018.

Denver began issuing licenses in 2016 for owners of short-term rental properties, who can be slapped with a felony charge if the landlord is not the resident of the house.

The planning commission staff report stated the town received complaints about short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods, causing nuisances such as noise and traffic as well as creating “unfair business competition and limiting the availability of affordable housing.”

Englewood City Council recently tabled the discussion over short-term rentals to seek further clarity from its planning and zoning commission. Its proposed ordinance would require short-term rental operators to receive a state sales tax license.

Parker is the first community in Douglas County to implement a “tourist home” definition.

The town's land development ordinance allows for lodging companies to build in areas zoned for commercial use only. “Home occupations,” the planning commission report states, are allowed. The major difference between that and a tourist home is the patron's length of stay.

"The current code is based on the original foundation from the early 1980s," Matthews responded via email to the Parker Chronicle on Nov. 1. "The Town has done a good job of maintaining the code over time, but we do run into the need for additional clarification. One of the driving forces for our Land Development Ordinance Modernization is addressing modern land uses and seeking to make the code more clear, which includes definitions."

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