Council considering short-term rental restrictions


By Kelsey Keener

kelsey@ironcountytoday.com

CEDAR CITY–The Cedar City Council is considering an amendment to Chapter 23(9)(Q) that would exclude the allowance of short-term rentals in R-1 residential zones.

The amendment was proposed by Eric and Tammy Vogt in response to an ordinance that was passed earlier this year in May. The previous ordinance was intended to help give the city more information about anyone operating short-term rentals (such as Airbnbs) by requiring them to have a business license.

Eric Vogt said lodging and boarding houses are not allowed in R-1 according to current ordinances, which should mean that short-term rentals are not permitted either. City Attorney Tyler Romeril said short-term rentals do not fit the definition of boarding or lodging houses.

“It is my advice to Council that as written, short-term rentals are allowed in the R-1 zone,” he said.

Tammy Vogt made a few points from the perspective of a realtor, mainly that short-term rentals nearby make it difficult to sell a home or maintain a home’s value. She said the city needs to set limitations because of the high possibilities of people purchasing homes for nightly rental purposes.

“When the city does not limit short-term rentals, people will not limit themselves when there is this much money to be made,” she said.

The proposed amendment would exclude short-term rentals from R-1 zones and states the guidelines for exception. Under the amendment, short-term rentals in R-1 zones would have to comply with the following rules: meet all terms as required by Chapter 26-IX-4(E); the person carrying on the Home Occupation must reside in the dwelling or have an agent in the dwelling, and be present at the time of short-term guest check-in; short-term guests occupying the property including the primary dwelling, guest houses, casitas or any other structures on the property shall not number more than nine.

When the floor was opened for public comments, many residents addressed the council with their thoughts and concerns. Residents were concerned with short-term rentals lowering the value of their homes, posing safety problems to their children and families and causing disturbances in neighborhoods. A main concern of many was a five-bedroom house that can sleep up to 30 people that is being used as a short-term rental in the Royal Hunt Ridge Subdivision. Several residents also spoke out supporting short-term rentals like Airbnbs for their benefits, such as interacting with people from all over the world and supporting families.

James Aton, who lives in the Royal Hunt Ridge Subdivision, spoke in favor of the restrictions proposed.

“I believe that short-term rentals need to be excluded from R-1 zones unless a variance is granted,” Aton said. “The R-1 zone is clearly designated as single-family dwelling, minimum vehicular traffic, a quiet residential area, favorable to family living and the rearing of children. Besides the traffic, trash and other problems these short-term rentals pose, they will wreak havoc with our property values. Our homes are our largest investment and now they’ve become, in our neighborhood, substantially less valuable.”

Judy Higbee, who lives on 200 West, said if a restriction is put in place it should be citywide.

“Either we do it for the whole town or we don’t do it as far as restrictions, because I think it’s very unfair to the whole town to burden everyone else with this problem, if it’s a problem,” she said. “I think it’s discriminatory to take one part of town and set it aside, so either we do it or we don’t do it.”

Brad Green spoke against the restrictions.

“The problems that do exist with short-term rentals exist in every aspect of city life,” he said. “And we have ordinances for them: nuisance ordinances, there are ordinances for after-hours noise and disturbing the peace, we have ordinances for weeds and garbage, we have ordinances for parking on sidewalks and on the grass. Utah is Utah because we protect rights, property rights especially.”

Meleana Hunseaker addressed the council explaining that a large home that provides short-term rental options is one of very few places that can house her whole family and allow them to eat together.

“When I look for lodging I look for a place that we can all sit together and we can all eat together,” she said. “And this Airbnb accommodates all 27 of the family members that we have from my side of the family. I’m happy that my family’s here and I get to see them a lot and there is a place we can all be together and enjoy each other’s company.”

The ordinance amendment was on last night’s action agenda for the City Council meeting.

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