Hayden will restrict short-term rentals in residential zones to primary residences but allow them in commercial zones, a proactive move on an issue that has become controversial up the valley.
Town officials have said Hayden does not have a short-term rental problem, with just a handful of them in town. Town Manager Mathew Mendisco said earlier this month there are just five currently in residential zones, though several of those have been applied for in recent weeks.
At a meeting in February, the town council delayed a final decision on short-term rentals with some residents asking council members to allow a limited number of them. But the new short-term rental rules remained unchanged after more discussion and were approved this month.
“I think this helps protect your neighbors and keep the neighborhoods that we have in this community,” said Hayden Mayor Zach Wuestewald. “I feel like it is a happy balance.”
In commercial zones, short-term rentals are allowed without any caps. Mendisco said these zones already encompass a number of the short-term rentals currently operating in Hayden.
In residential zones, short-term rentals are still allowed if the rental property is a primary residence, which means that someone must live there for more than six months of the year. This preserves the ability to rent a property short-term on a weekend basis, or for a few months out of the year, but not year-round. If it’s not a primary residence, short-term renting is not allowed.
Hayden Planning and Economic Development Director Mary Alice Page-Allen said whether something is a primary residence hinges on where someone receives property tax notices, registers to vote or the address tied to their driver’s license when they apply for a short-term rental permit.
“It needs to be a primary residence,” said council member Bob Reese. “I think the property will be better maintained and the quality of the neighborhood will stay at a higher level.”
Wuestewald also stressed it will be important to revisit the ordinance to ensure it stays flexible and in line with community sentiment on the issue.
Some residents have pushed for a cap on short-term rentals, allowing a limited number of homes that are not a primary residence to be rented short-term.
Dallas Robinson, a resident who owns a home he plans to rent out eventually also proposed requiring a home to be someone’s primary residence, but suggested it should be for at least two years prior to being converted.
But Hayden Planning and Economic Development Director Mary Alice Page-Allen said measures like that could make it more complicated for town staff to enforce the rule, and council approved the ordinance unanimously March 3.
The last ordinance aligning the rule with the town’s updated development code will have its second reading and a public hearing on April 7 after being approved unanimously Thursday, March 17.
“I think this is a really good balance, and the fact that we can revisit this every year as needed is a wise decision,” said council member Ryan Banks.
To reach Dylan Anderson, call 970-871-4247 or email danderson@SteamboatPilot.com.