Westminster won't ban short-term and vacation rentals in the city but will move to regulate them, the City Council voted May 8.
City Councilor Bruce Baker was the sole no vote, saying he wants protect neighborhood character and keep short terms rentals out of Westminster. He said short-term rentals will hurt neighborhoods.
“We diminish our neighborhoods when we don’t have the vast majority of owners living in their neighborhood, caring about their neighbors and making their common dreams come to life,” he said.
City Councilor Rich Seymour said he agreed with Baker, but that short-term rentals need to be regulated since they are already occurring in the city.
Mayor Pro Tem David DeMott, City Councilors Sarah Nurmela, Obi Ezeadi, Lindsey Emmons and Mayor Nancy McNally agreed they must be regulated.
“Having it in our code allows us to address it,” said Nurmela.
DeMott said having multiple uses and housing options in the city is important. Nurmela said she was concerned about how the rentals may impact the city’s housing market.
Prior to the vote, short-term rentals rules didn’t exist in the Westminster City Code. According to the meeting’s agenda, zoning is “permissive in nature” and no reference to them leads to enforcement and legal challenges.
The approved resolution gives the city enforcement mechanisms. According to the ordinance, anyone offering a short-term rental must first obtain and maintain a license that is valid for two years.
All owners of a property must sign onto the application and no one can operate more than one licensed short-term rental within Westminster.
Short-term rentals must adhere to city codes, such as not creating a public nuisance. The rentals can also only be occupied by one party at a time and cannot be rented for commercial activity.
Operations and Community Preservation Manager Aric Otzelberger said the new rules will resemble Westminster's long-term rental rules. There must be 150 square feet for the primary occupant and then 100 square feet for each occupant after that. As well, there must be a 70-square-foot bedroom for the primary occupant and 30 square feet for each occupant after that.
The licenses also will have a three-strike policy regarding code compliance and complaints, but the city will have autonomy for enforcement mechanisms.
City Attorney David Frankel said if a renter stays more than 30 days, it’s a long-term rental.
Emmons also asked if a married couple could own multiple properties. Otzelberger said technically if one spouse is the sole owner of one property and the other spouse is the sole owner of a different property, then yes, the married couple would own two properties.
Nurmela asked if one person could own a short-term rental and then also own one through a different LLC. Otzelberger said that each entity would be considered a separate person, but there is no evidence he is aware of in surrounding communities with individuals owning multiple short-term rentals.
“Is it possible? Perhaps. But (this resolution is) intended as a starting place,” he said.
Frankel also said that all who have ownership of the property would need to sign the application. That would apply to owners of an LLC as well. All owenrs would need to sign the application and if someone was on multiple applications, it would come to the staff’s attention.
Otzelberger said that if there was a problem and the city saw a cause for concern that a change would be made, but Nurmela asked how the city would know there is a problem.
Otzelberger said the city tracks data on a weekly basis regarding short-term rentals. In 2022, they made up around .4% of Westminster’s housing stock. If the number came to a point of concern, the city would consider a cap.