SUMMIT COUNTY, Utah — After a lengthy public hearing about an ordinance that would have paused the issuance of nightly rental licenses in unincorporated Summit County until January, the county council concluded that it didn’t have the required three votes to pass such a measure.
The ordinance wouldn’t have had any effect on current licenses that were previously issued or in the process.
It remained clear that the body is committed to regulating short-term rentals, however, there was a visible split among the council on how they want to do that.
Councilors Doug Clyde and Roger Armstrong signaled that the most effective way to establish new rules is through zoning. Glenn Wright, Chris Robinson, and Malena Stevens agreed the best move forward was for the county to implement new requirements into the licensing process.
“It’s a different process if all we’re doing is doing licensing,” Summit County Manager Tom Fisher said at the end of the meeting. “I think it does need to include looking into the depth of the problem… we need to start with some research.”
It was noted at the meeting that over 100 new nightly rental license applications have come in since discussions about this topic began several weeks ago.
The true number of short-term rentals in Summit County appears to be an open question. A number of people that spoke on Wednesday night hinted that a moratorium would backfire, in that more businesses would lean towards the black market rather than acquire a license from the county.
Summit County Economic Development Director Jeff Jones used analytics tool AirDNA to estimate the total number of active short-term rental listings in each zip code (also configured with data from the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute):
- 84060 (Park City proper) — 3,389
- 84098 (Snyderville) — 2,237
- 84017 (Coalville) — 30
- 84036 (Kamas) — 155
- 84055 (Oakley) — 14
That would make the total number of active listings countywide — 5,825
“Many times we have units that are arranged on a longer-term basis, which would be greater than 30 days for, say the months of April through October. And then those units are converted to more of a short-term basis in the month of November through March,” Jones said.
“Those numbers can kind of fill up and down depending upon the time of year.”
Jones said the AirDNA algorithm looks to eliminate duplicate listings.
Many boutique rental companies operating in Canyons Village and the Snyderville Basin voiced full opposition to the ordinance. There were suggestions that if the county did move forward with the moratorium, they exclude the resort areas.
Brad Iverson of Canyons Village Rentals told the council that his business is growing rapidly. “About 300% larger than last year,” he said.
“It’s people that primarily are with another rental management company or they’re with the incumbent hotel-condo operator that switch to us. So it’s not necessarily new rentals, but the rules require us to get a new business license when they switch from one company to another.” Iverson said the moratorium “would put us at a complete standstill.”
“We use AirDNA, I take it with a grain of salt,” he added. “I look at my own units there, they’re not always accurate.”
The Park City Area Lodging Association and the Canyons Village Management Association also spoke to voice their concerns with the moratorium.
Park City Board of Realtors CEO Jamie Johnson denounced the ordinance, but added, “we are not against regulating short-term rentals.”
She said that 64% of pending home listings (in escrow) in Summit County are currently in areas that allow for short-term rentals. “64% of those consumers buying homes that have the right, right now, to have short-term rental permits that would be taken away from as they close on this home,” Johnson said.
Megan McKenna, a Park City High School graduate that now works at the school as a teacher, said she recently finished her basement (that makes for a 400 sq. ft studio) in her Park City Heights home.
When she put it up for rent, she said she “had to take it offline within 20 minutes because there was so much response, so many responses to it. I listened to a family of four pleading on the phone if they could take it. These are students, a mother and three students in our school district, that were desperately looking for housing. And this is what we’re pushing out when we allow for more nightly rentals.” McKenna said she was in favor of the proposed moratorium.
Several calls from residents in Summit Park displayed the problem with nightly rentals in what is a residential neighborhood.
One Summit Park resident called to tell the council about what she called a “nightmare” on her street. She said both of her neighbors to the east and west run nightly rentals, hosting events “basically every weekend.”
“The most frequent complaint I have is noise, at times there is trash, there are people speeding down the streets.” She said she and her husband moved there thinking it was strictly a residential neighborhood without nightly rentals.
Another Summit Park resident noted the safety hazards with parking in such a tricky neighborhood in the winter, especially for visitors and newcomers.
“We came here because we love the community,” the man added. “And it’s absolutely being ruined by the spillover from what intended — the resort core. That is just spilling out so badly into our neighborhoods, and it’s causing very sincere issues.”
One owner of a townhome on Woodside Ave. in Old Town told the council that a nightly rental company has been calling her “aggressively” to convert her home into a nightly rental. “Essentially every three days I’ve gotten a call from them trying to reach me about essentially canceling my lease and turning my property into a nightly rental.”
Maverick Bolger, who sits on the Park City Board of Realtors, told the council that the moratorium would have an inverse effect on affordability. “It would create a short-term, sort of demand for those properties that are licensed,” Bolger said.
At the end of the public hearing, the only councilor left in support of the ordinance was Roger Armstrong.
“People that are buying — what should have been — relatively affordable properties in Silver Creek Village. People in Promontory are using those to warehouse their belongings and themselves until their new houses in Promontory are completed so they can move back in. Then they will convert those to short-term rentals. And none of you sees that with a sense of urgency,” Armstrong said.
It’s expected that the county council will discuss short-term rental regulation at a meeting TBA.