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Vacation rental approval may not be end

City may wait for possible repeal effort

Final approval of new vacation rental rules could precipitate a new fight over the issue.

The Durango City Council is poised to approve a vacation rental ordinance in the consent agenda at tonight’s 6:30 meeting. The consent agenda allows councilors to approve several items at once. Tonight’s consent agenda also includes the new medical and recreational marijuana regulations and fees.

However, City Attorney Dirk Nelson is recommending the council approve an emergency temporary moratorium on vacation rental use so the city can evaluate any resident-led charge to change or repeal the code change. If the vacation rental ordinance is approved and no moratorium is passed, the change will take effect July 1.

Current code requires a 500-foot separation between vacation rental units. The new code, which is part of the new Land Use and Development Code, caps vacation rentals at 5 percent in the two established neighborhoods – one in the downtown area, and the other along West Second and West Third avenues – with up to two rentals per street segment. It would allow up to 35 in the downtown neighborhood and 28 on the avenues.

The second rental would have to obtain a conditional-use permit. Residents who apply for a second vacation rental on their street segment must be the primary resident of the property and use the vacation rental part-time. The street segment must have more than five homes facing the street.

Vacation rentals could be located next to each other in mixed-use residential buildings if the applicant shows he or she has distributed local contact information for the vacation rental to all unit owners and tenants in the building.

Nelson’s memo to the City Council said that a possible citizen-initiated referendum, which has to start within 30 days of the council’s final vote, would suspend the ordinance from taking effect and could eventually repeal the ordinance. Residents could also propose their own ordinance through an initiative, or do both. Both referendums and initiatives go to a citywide vote.

“The city would certainly argue that the removal of the vacation rentals as an allowed use by the suspension of the new regulations would in effect prohibit those uses under the Land Use Development Code,” Nelson wrote. “But it is fair to say that the filing of a referendum would create a good deal of uncertainty regarding the creation of new vacation rental uses in the city prior to the completion of the referendum process.”

There’s also the possibility that a referendum could pass and an initiative could fail, leaving no vacation rental code at all.

The meeting is being held in the Smith Chambers of City Hall at 949 East Second Ave.


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