COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — Concerned about how homeowners rent their homes to out-of-town skiers, Cottonwood Heights is considering an ordinance restricting where vacation rentals can be and who can own them.
The city, which abuts Big and Little Cottonwood canyons, has between 50 and 100 vacation rental houses within its boundaries that house families in town for skiing at any of the four resorts in the canyons or three in Park City about 45 minutes away. The proposed ordinance, which is scheduled for a formal City Council vote on Tuesday, would set up guidelines for the rentals that are intended to keep neighborhoods happy.
"The bulk of our vacation rental users are good citizens — they come in and behave themselves and leave a lot of their money in our community," said Kevin Smith, Cottonwood Heights community development director. "We don't want to ignore the issues, but we don't want to put the burden on the neighborhood to put up with rowdy vacationers. If we didn't have an ordinance, we would still have" the rentals.
The city wants to concentrate the rentals in apartment complexes or condominiums that typically have long-term renters. Single-family homes used as vacation rentals would be required to be on major roads such as Fort Union Boulevard, Bengal Boulevard, 2700 East or 2300 East. Rentals in high-density areas would require a staff planner's approval; single-family homes would require a conditional-use permit and the Planning Commission's permission.
Before Cottonwood Heights incorporated earlier this year, property owners could license their vacation rentals with Salt Lake County. A few of those houses may still be licensed with the county, Smith said, adding that the majority of short-term rentals probably do not have the requisite business licenses, rental licenses and applications.
"Each one of those will have to come into the city and meet the requirements of this new code," Smith said.
That's not likely to be a problem for most of the property owners who work with Utah Vacation Homes, a company that manages the rentals. Tristan Webb, the business director for the company, said that most property owners won't have a problem meeting Cottonwood Heights' requirements for adequate parking, permits, licenses and applications.
The owners, who are scattered throughout Utah and other states, will have to pay the city a $250 application fee and a $150 business license fee. If the rental is a single-family home, owners would have to pay $1,000 for a conditional-use permit. Cottonwood Heights requires the rentals to have a local manager "so that I could call or the police department could call and not have to talk to someone in Blackfoot, Idaho," Smith said. Vacation rental homes listed online for Cottonwood Heights range from roughly $200 per night for a house with four bedrooms up to $600 a night during the holidays for a bigger house.
"Because our clients are families, they all want to be able to sit down at the table and cook and eat meals together and spend time together," Webb said. "Most people go on vacation to reconnect with their families, and in a hotel room you just can't do that."
If the Cottonwood Heights City Council approves the ordinance, each year owners of vacation rentals would have to:
Complete an application and pay $250 to Cottonwood Heights.
Obtain a business license for $150.
Have a local manager of the rental.
Post notice to neighbors of the rental property.
Obtain and pay for a $1,000 conditional-use permit if the rental is a single-family home.
Source: Cottonwood Heights