COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- The Colorado Springs City Council, having already approved occupancy limits for short-term rental units, voted 5-4 Thursday for more regulations.
The council decided that new STRs can no longer be in residential neighborhoods unless the owner lives on site for at least 180 days, and that a rental must be at least 500 feet from another rental unless it's owner-occupied for the required period.
The council stressed the presence of rental owners in being present to address any problems; most current rentals are not owner-owned or owner-occupied.
"Is it perfect? No," said Councilwoman Yolanda Avila. "But it's a good starting point. We or a future council can come back and make changes as needed."
'I don't like it," said Council President Richard Skorman. It's too restrictive."
Council members approved regulations for the first time last year but want to strengthen those regulations and enforce them, as the growing number of businesses nears 1,300.
The council is concerned about an unknown number of businesses that aren't registered, licensed, paying the proper amount of taxes or following current regulations.
The council heard public comment from around 30 people Thursday, then discussed the matter before voting at the end of the four-hour meeting.
"I don't understand the why behind this," said Jeff Thomas, an STR owner. "I haven't seen any data to support these regulations."
Josh Kolnitys, an STR manager and owner, fears that the regulations will increase prices for guests by reducing the number of available lodging units.
"People like STRs because they want something different than a hotel," he said.
But others in the audience said they understand the need for regulations and think the vote represents an acceptable compromise.
"We need STRs," a woman said. "They're a source of income for people. They allow a family member to work from home. And they're what people are looking for."
Thursday's vote was a first reading of the proposed ordinance amendments. The matter becomes official after a second reading before the end of the year.
The council also debated whether STRs are legally and technically commercial properties that should be valued, assessed and taxed as such.
"That's something the El Paso County assessor has to decide," Skorman said.
The council also is waiting for the results of a consultant to determine how many STRs are not in compliance and subject to fines. The city would be responsible for enforcing the regulations.