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Short-term rental owners blast proposed Larimer rules

ESTES PARK – A consortium of owners of properties used as short-term vacation rentals in the Estes Valley is protesting changes proposed by Larimer County that would change regulations governing such housing in unincorporated areas surrounding Estes Park.

In a report issued Tuesday, eight days before the county’s deadline for public comment about the changes, the Estes Valley Short-Term Rental Alliance referenced a study commissioned for Visit Estes Park that the alliance says shows that the benefits of adding workforce housing and child care that were promised to Estes Park voters when they approved a lodging tax increase to fund them would be severely reduced should Larimer County institute the major changes in regulations.

“Nearly $2.4 million slated for workforce housing and child care in the Estes Valley could be eliminated if Larimer County imposes proposed reductions or bans short-term rentals in residential areas,” the EVSTRA report said. “Total receipts from the expanded 6E tax approved by 60% of voters in November has been estimated to be at least $5 million per year.”

The county has been considering tightening rules for short-term housing because some residents who live near the rental properties have complained about safety, noise, access, trash, traffic, compatibility with neighborhoods and rentals operating illegally. Larimer County and the town of Estes Park regularly receive such complaints from the short-term rentals’ neighbors. If a short-term rental property is found to have violated the county’s rules on three separate occasions, its license is revoked.

Statistics used in the new study from EVSTRA were derived from a review of the Estes Park lodging industry conducted by Dean Runyan Associates and released in September by Visit Estes Park, the local marketing district that is responsible for distributing funds from the increased lodging tax. 

“While the county has not specified the number of STR licenses that are at risk,” the EVSTRA news release said, “recent public hearings by the Estes Valley Planning Advisory Committee have focused on severe reduction of the number of licenses that will be issued in the future. Additionally, several members of the committee assigned to advance recommendations to the Larimer County Board of Commissioners have openly expressed a desire to eventually eliminate all short-term rentals in residential areas, EVSTRA said.

“Severely restricting short-term rentals in the county will not just impact lodging tax income,” the report said. “According to the Runyan report for the Estes Park area, visitor spending for food service, food stores, local transportation and gas, arts, entertainment and recreation and retail sales will be limited. While those businesses do not collect lodging taxes, visitor spending in those areas will result in reduced sales tax revenue to the town of Estes Park, Larimer County and the state of Colorado.”

The proposed changes remain in draft form, but some of the changes being discussed include zoning changes and eliminating vacation rentals in some zones, limiting the number of days each year that homes can house paid guests, limiting or prohibiting owners’ ability to transfer their vacation-home permit to new owners.The deadline for comments about proposed changes is Monday, Dec. 14. The draft regulations are online at, and comments can be emailed to

Source: BizWest